American artist Michael Rakowitz (b. 1973) grew up in an Iraqi family in New York, and lives and works in Chicago. Across two decades, his practice has focused on highlighting the invisibility of Iraqis beyond images of conflict, either through food, archaeological artifacts or other narratives. In “Réapparitions,” on view from February 25 to June 12, 2022 at FRAC in France, the artist recreates or “re-appears” the missing and destroyed artifacts taken from the National Museum of Iraq after the American invasion in the early 2000s.

Arie Amaya-Akkermans

The sights on the fer­ry from Karaköy to Fen­er, the his­tor­i­cal Greek dis­trict, a quar­ter mid­way up the Gold­en Horn, between Istanbul ’ s his­tor­i­cal penin­su­la and the dis­trict of Eyüp, is some­thing to behold : At dusk the orange skies of the city cast a shad­ow of burn over the undu­lat­ing waters, pop­u­lat­ed by flocks of seag­ulls care­ful­ly tip­toe­ing on the stri­a­tion of the cur­rent. Right off the Bosporus strait, the opu­lent vis­tas from the inlet allow you to con­sume his­to­ry in blocks, from the pro­trud­ing dome of the 6th cen­tu­ry Hagia Sophia, to the unfin­ished lux­u­ry apart­ments ris­ing uncer­e­mo­ni­ous­ly at the edge of the ship­yards on the oppo­site side of the prom­e­nade. There ’ south some­thing allur­ing about this hor­i­zon­tal stratig­ra­phy. Approach­ing Bal­at, the sky­line resem­bles a batch of coat slices ( as the wood­en man­sions of the area are known in the local archi­tec­tur­al slang ) : Col­or­ful mul­ti-sto­ry hous­es paint­ed in vibrant pas­tel col­ors form the pic­turesque facade of a luke­warm award, eas­i­ly digestible and adorned with church­es and palazzos .

Upon clos­er inspec­tion, how­ev­er, when you arrive on the main­land, the inten­tion­al time warp rapid­ly evap­o­rates : many of the paint­ed hous­es are car­cass­es, and in fact equitable facades—they ’ rhenium aban­doned emp­ty shells, bedraggled inwardly. These ghost dwellings are paint­ed out­ward­ly in orderliness to give the illu­sion of ordi­nary life that is then trea­sured by the con­tem­po­rary tourist. A bill­board erect­ed by the munic­i­pal­i­ty cel­e­brates the accom­plish­ment of keep­ing alert this ear­ly mod­ern her­itage. But lone a few blocks ahead, off the main streets, most of the hous­es are slow­ly crum­bling or wait­ing to be sold en masse. Demo­li­tions are fre­quent, and as these frag­ile ghosts quick­ly dis­ap­pear, the emp­ty plots reveal that the adjoin­ing hous­es are besides aban­doned, rot­ting corpses. Yet the his­to­ry of Fen­er is more than a cat­a­log of ruins : After the decrease of Con­stan­tino­ple in 1453, it became home to many Greeks from the city, giv­ing ascent to the demonym Pha­nari­otes, a affluent mer­chant class who occu­pied impor­tant posi­tions in the Ottoman Empire .
even though Fen­er is the tra­di­tion­al seat of the Ecu­meni­cal Patri­ar­chate of Con­stan­tino­ple, the greek pres­ence in the neigh­bor­hood is so faint today that in hurt of the expansive metaphor of tourism, noth­ing is imme­di­ate­ly vis­i­ble — it needs to be force­ful­ly exca­vat­ed. It ’ s not that noth­ing remains, but that every­thing has become sol dis­fig­ured as to become ungras­pable. But the thin­ning past international relations and security network ’ t a greek copy­right : once upon a time the Jew­ish Quar­ter of Istan­bul, the larg­er Bal­at dis­trict, was home to a cos­mopoli­tan pop­u­la­tion, includ­ing besides Arme­ni­ans. Minor­i­ty pop­u­la­tions were forced to leave as a solution of riots, geno­cide and expul­sions through­out the twentieth cen­tu­ry. Today touristed cafes coex­ist with syn­a­gogues guard­ed behind barbed wire fences. The kind of “ thana­tourism ” ( “ dark tourism ” involv­ing trav­el to places his­tor­i­cal­ly asso­ci­at­ed with death and calamity ) sur­round­ing Fen­er is of a par­tic­u­lar kind, since the objects of his­tor­i­cal con­sump­tion are not read­i­ly avail­able, or obvi­ous to the onlook­er ; they shine in their absence.

‘ These are place hold­ers for homo lives that can­not be recon­struct­ed and are inactive look­ing for sanc­tu­ary. ’ In an era of glob­al discord, with home­less peo­ple wan­der­ing around the earth, we won­der often about the ancient notions of sanc­tu­ary and hos­pi­tal­i­ty, sacro­sanct in our tra­di­tions, and so far so far from our polit­i­cal world .

With one thousand excep­tion. A friend writes to me : “ Unique­ly weird plaza with the usu­al Gala­ta het­e­ro­clite archi­tec­ture, scrunched togeth­er hor­i­zon­tal­ly and besides piled ver­ti­cal­ly, with that 19th cen­tu­ry ghost school float­ing on top, ever-present, like some appari­tion. ” He refers to the Pha­nar Greek Ortho­dox Col­lege, orig­i­nal­ly found­ed in 1454 by Patri­arch Gen­na­dius II, the old­est and most pres­ti­gious greek school in Istan­bul, housed now in an icon­ic bolshevik cas­tle going back to 1881, designed by Kon­standi­nos Dimadis. The school has weath­ered out all the expul­sions and dis­place­ments of the state ’ s greek pop­u­la­tion, and though its future is uncer­tain, it remains indeed an appari­tion, a haunt in the flesh, perched atop a hill .

There exists a sense of con­ti­nu­ity between the fantastic mon­u­men­tal­i­ty of the build­ing and the dif­fi­cul­ty in locat­ing the actu­al con­text and con­tent of the sur­round­ing deflower — they ’ re com­ple­men­tary. But how does one make an appari­tion derive depth or resur­face when its mean­ing has become obscured ? On the oppo­site direc­tion of the fer­ry jour­ney, from Fen­er to Karaköy, anoth­er men­tal arch­i­pel­ago of unmet tourist fan­tasies, we begin to unveil appari­tions from a dis­tant by, as a par­a­digm for the kind of his­to­ri­o­graph­i­cal prac­tice that we wish to deploy when faced with the phys­i­cal extinc­tion of cul­tur­al mem­o­ry com­bined with archi­tec­tur­al nobility, as we wit­ness in Istanbul ’ s Bal­at region .
In his project, “ The Invis­i­ble Ene­my Should not Exist, ” a little sec­tion of which was on show at the end of last year at Karaköy ’ s Pi Art­works, Michael Rakowitz began to recre­ate the miss­ing and destroy arti­facts tak­en from the Nation­al Muse­um of Iraq after the Amer­i­can inva­sion in the ear­ly 2000s .
The undertaking is of path unat­tain­able as there are more than 7,000 arti­facts, and so far, Rakowitz and his team have recre­at­ed about 900 of them. ( The artist has constantly been care­ful to name all the mem­bers in his team, in ordering to high­light the obscu­ri­ty of labor in con­tem­po­rary artwork, which res­onates with the archae­o­log­i­cal con­text where it is indeed nameless labor­ers who under­take the task of mining. )
But to use the term recre­at­ing is mis­lead­ing here, for what we ’ re deal­ing with is not an arche­o­log­i­cal restora­tion or recon­struc­tion that aims to replace the by with a sem­blance, but what Rakowitz call re-pres­enc­ing or re-appear­ing : For the artist these are not recon­struc­tions or repli­cas, but reap­pear­ances. In this spec­tral, and however wild­ly col­or­ful form ( mak­ing ref­er­ence to the arche­o­log­i­cal debate on poly­chromy ), these are ghosts that rep­re­sent the lose Iraqis. In his 2021 lec­ture at the Ori­en­tal Insti­tute in Chica­go, ( G ) Hosting, Rakowitz uses a beau­ti­ful metaphor : “ These are place hold­ers for human lives that can­not be recon­struct­ed and are still look­ing for sanc­tu­ary. ” In an era of glob­al strife, with home­less peo­ple wan­der­ing around the populace, we won­der frequently about the ancient notions of sanc­tu­ary and hos­pi­tal­i­ty, sacro­sanct in our tra­di­tions, and even so far from our polit­i­cal reality .

A num­ber of Michael Rakowitz ’ second ( re ) apparitions of objects from the Nation­al Muse­um reveal them­selves in Istan­bul mod­est­ly laid on a table, and even they estab­lish a dia­logue with us from an unreach­able time—a time of des­ti­tu­tion and pow­er­less­ness, not acces­si­ble from our two-dimen­sion­al show. As ghosts, they occu­py an inter­me­di­ate in-between where they ’ ve died but remain unburied, miss­ing and rest­less. They are sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly doc­u­ment­ed in the exhi­bi­tion in the man­ner of an archae­o­log­i­cal dis­play : “ Muse­um num­ber : Unknown. Exca­va­tion num­ber : Kh. I 226. Prove­nience : Khafa­je. Dimension ( sulfur ) ( in curium ) : 21 x 19 curium. Mate­r­i­al : Bitu­mi­nous stone. date : Ear­ly Dynas­tic II ( ca. 2600 BC ). Descrip­tion : Frag­ment of stand-in plaque, for­mer­ly inlay ( inlay miss­ing ) ; low­er separate shows out­lines of two boats with rud­ders. Sta­tus : Unknown. ” The clin­i­cal oper­a­tion at employment in muse­um acces­sion cards is repli­cat­ed about entire­ly by Rakowitz and his team, flush though we are deal­ing here with objects made of card­board, food pack­ag­ing, news­pa­pers, and glue .
These newly labels, how­ev­er, rather of pro­vid­ing links to the exist­ing schol­ar­ship ( as muse­ums cus­tom­ar­i­ly would do ), relay quotes as frag­ments of con­ver­sa­tions between the dif­fer­ent lay­ers of the past, cre­at­ing extend­ed knowl­edge net­works between arche­ol­o­gists, artists, politi­cians, col­lec­tors and the like : “ Our arche­o­log­i­cal her­itage is a non­re­new­able resource. When a part is destroyed that part is lost for­ev­er ” ( Usam Ghaiden and Anna Paolin ). “ Chap­ters in our under­stand­ing of human devel­op­ment will nev­er be rewrit­ten ” ( Mic­ah Garen and Marie-Hélène Car­letoni ). “ Let me say one oth­er thing. The images you are see­ing on tele­vi­sion you are see­ing over, and over, and over, and it ’ s the same pic­ture of some per­son walk­ing out of some build­ing with a vase, and you see it 20 times, and you think, My good­ness, were there that many vas­es ? ( Laugh­ter ) Is it pos­si­ble that there were that many vas­es in the solid coun­try ? ” ( Don­ald Rums­feld ). It is an alle­gor­i­cal con­ver­sa­tion about the mean­ing and val­ue of inheritance .
A more ambi­tious depart of the visualize begins in 2015, fol­low­ing the destruc­tion shape by the Islam­ic State on Iraqi antiq­ui­ties, when Rakowitz sets out to re-pres­ence what was destroyed, which cat­a­pult­ed his prac­tice to an entire­ly modern lev­el of inter­sec­tion­al con­ver­sa­tions with the vio­lent past of arche­ol­o­gy and colo­nial­ism in the area. many have seen the celebrated Lamas­su that was unveiled in 2018 on the one-fourth pedestal of Trafal­gar Square in Lon­don ( made out of cans of date syrup ) as a pub­lic artwork com­mis­sion ; an Assyr­i­an pro­tec­tive deity in the shape of a winged bull, guard­ing the Ner­gal Gate of Nin­eveh, near Mosul, from 700 BC until it was destroyed in 2015 by ISIS. Rakowitz is keen to remark in his Chica­go lec­ture that the Lon­don mon­u­ment, as a “ place-hold­er, ” is not only a ghost of the orig­i­nal, hop­ing to return in the future, but it besides sits in judg­ment, between the insti­tu­tions that hold Iraqi antiq­ui­ties tak­en dur­ing the colo­nial era and the insti­tu­tions that made the deci­sion to invade Iraq in the 2000s .

And the real pow­er of these ghosts is entirely unleash when Rakowitz turns his atten­tion toward a roy­al palace in Nim­rud, known as Kalhu in Ara­bic, some thir­ty kilo­me­ters south of Mosul. The North­west Palace, inau­gu­rat­ed around 879 BC, under King Ashur­nasir­pal II of Assyr­ia, a bru­tal rule, amass­ing spec­tac­u­lar wealth, and embark­ing on an expan­sion cam­paign from the Asia Minor to Syr­ia. The destruc­tion of the palace dur­ing ISIS occu­pa­tion of Mosul is so exten­sive that it is esti­mat­ed over 60 % of the exca­vat­ed area is lost beyond animate. Accord­ing to US media at the time : “ Sev­er­al videos released by the mil­i­tants last class show ISIS fight­ers using sledge­ham­mers, pow­er tools, and bull­doz­ers to demol­ish price­less sculp­tures and stone carv­ings. What they didn ’ t destroy with explo­sives they tore down by hand. ” The palace is a humon­gous struc­ture, on the east savings bank of the Tigris Riv­er, cov­er­ing 28,000 squarely meters, designed around three or four lav­ish­ly dec­o­rat­ed courtyards .
But when ISIS entered the site in 2015, it wasn ’ t any­thing like a fresh ruin—the ruin is an ide­o­log­i­cal pro­duc­tion. Arche­ol­o­gists had exten­sive­ly exca­vat­ed the web site since it was redis­cov­ered by Austen Hen­ry Layard in the 1840s. Sub­se­quent exca­va­tions by British, Pol­ish, Ital­ian and Iraqi arche­ol­o­gists, arsenic well as by oppor­tunist loot­ers, have scat­tered the con­tents of the palace to all the cor­ners of the earth—there ’ randomness mate­r­i­al from Nim­rud in muse­ums in 20 coun­tries, the huge major­i­ty in Britain and the Unit­ed States .
Rakowitz and his stu­dio have reap­peared 7 rooms from Kalhu : N, G, Z, H, sec­tions from rooms F and S, and sec­tion 1 of board C that was on show in Istan­bul. Fol­low­ing their sig­na­ture method acting, work­ing on easing sculp­tures on woodwind pan­els, the team has cre­at­ed the col­or­ful stand-in from news­pa­pers and food pack­ag­ing, leav­ing out in benighted shades the parts of the relief that were already missing .
One of the most inter­est­ing cura­to­r­i­al strate­gies in the visualize is leav­ing out the loot­ed easing which are now impris­oned souls in colo­nial insti­tu­tions ( an expres­sion I learnt from the late Peru­vian artist Juan Javier Salazar ) in the West. These emp­ty spaces car­ry weight turned top devour. In the Istan­bul exhi­bi­tion, three of those blank spaces are vis­i­ble : Vir­ginia Muse­um of Fine Arts, Vorderasi­atis­ches Muse­um and the Istan­bul Arche­o­log­i­cal Muse­ums ; a one-fourth relief, C‑10, about entire­ly destroyed, is reap­peared, and belongs to the Nation­al Muse­um of Iraq—7 oth­er frag­ments from the room are dis­played in oth­er muse­ums, as we learn from exist­ing scholarship .

The emp­ty space left for the entire slab kept at the Istan­bul Arche­o­log­i­cal Muse­ums, C11, hits home, and makes us won­der, why would there be a blank space for a region­al muse­um, in the heart of the Mid­dle East, amongst the West­ern colo­nial insti­tu­tions ? The his­to­ry of the muse­um, one of the first colo­nial muse­ums in the global, along­side the Lou­vre and the Met­ro­pol­i­tan, deserves atten­tion on its own : Found­ed in 1891, as the Ottoman Impe­r­i­al Muse­um by Osman Ham­di Bey, it amassed a bang-up col­lec­tion due to an impe­r­i­al rule pro­tect­ing cul­tur­al goods in the Ottoman Empire. Gov­er­nors from all the provinces would send in arti­facts to the cap­i­tal city, in what amounts to cul­tur­al extrac­tion from all the peo­ples of the huge Ottoman department of state.

But this would be a sim­pli­fi­ca­tion of an extra­or­di­nar­i­ly tur­bu­lent earned run average, full with admin­is­tra­tive chaos, net­works of local spies, for­eign dig­gers, licensed expe­di­tions, incom­plete inven­to­ries and per­son­al boodle that facil­i­tat­ed the rapid extrac­tion of antiq­ui­ties from the Ottoman lands in the 19th cen­tu­ry. The his­to­ry of the Ottoman Impe­r­i­al Muse­um is a riv­et­ing score of an earned run average when the ques­tion of who owns antiq­ui­ty was asked con­stant­ly : In 1883, while the muse­um was under devel­op­ment, french arche­ol­o­gist Salomon Reinach pub­lished a composition ques­tion­ing whether Turks should be per­mit­ted to own antiq­ui­ties belong­ing to the clas­si­cal past of Europe, and a pro­pos­al was launched to acquire all the antiq­ui­ties in Istan­bul, and in switch over, present the Ottoman express with a big assort­ment of gifts, con­sist­ing of pieces of Tur­kic art ( such as swords, minia­tures, pot­tery and car­pets ), scat­tered all over the worldly concern, to form a nation­al muse­um of Turk­ish art .

Rakowitz has constantly been mindful of the invis­i­bil­i­ty of Iraqis to the Amer­i­can pub­lic except as com­bat­ants and dead bod­ies pre­sent­ed in high def­i­n­i­tion sound and images on television receiver. Sim­i­lar­ly, minori­ties in Istan­bul, now and in the past, are much only pre­sent­ed as deviants, crim­i­nals and outlaws .

In Feb­ru­ary, Rakowitz will open the exhi­bi­tion “ Réap­pari­tions ” at FRAC Lor­raine, in France, with reliefs from room G of North­west Palace, a much larg­er board, besides exca­vat­ed by Layard in 1846. 12 muse­ums and an anony­mous pri­vate col­lec­tor have kept dif­fer­ent parts of the room, along­side over 16 miss­ing frag­ments and an aston­ish­ing 28 remain­ing frag­ments in situ, now pre­sum­ably destroyed. The Istan­bul Arche­o­log­i­cal Muse­ums appear again, with 3 dif­fer­ent frag­ments, con­firm­ing their place of hon­or among the loot muse­ums of the global .

But there remains a keystone to unlock in the con­sti­tu­tion of Rakowitz ’ s re-appari­tions that will soon link them to the dis­ap­pari­tions of Istanbul ’ s Fen­er : The food pack­ag­ings used in the sculp­tures ( all of them their real size ), are com­ing from the col­or­ful wrap­pings, box­es and cans of Mid­dle East­ern foods avail­able in Amer­i­can super­mar­kets, and in the eyes of Rakowitz, a way in which peo­ples have bypassed sanc­tions and closed bor­ders to reap­pear in anoth­er geog­ra­phy ( arabian news­pa­pers from Chica­go and oth­er Amer­i­can cities have been besides used ). It all start­ed with cans of go steady syrup pro­duced in Iraq but labeled in Lebanon, and lat­er on, in the Netherlands .
The inti­mate and cru­cial rela­tion­ship in Rakowitz ’ s workplace between food and reap­pear­ances, as embod­ied in his ear­li­er project “ Ene­my Kitchen ”, turn­ing around a nar­ra­tive of opac­i­ty to make Iraqi cui­sine vis­i­ble to an Amer­i­can audi­ence, allows you to think through a sub­ter­ranean lay­er of visu­al and sen­so­r­i­al mem­o­ry, hid­den behind the hol­low facades of Fen­er : Beyond the sparse strip of dilap­i­dat­ed mod­ernist hous­es fac­ing the sea, past Pha­nar Col­lege, a work­ing course neigh­bor­hood starts uphill, lead­ing up to the Faith Mosque, built in 1463, by the greek archi­tect Sinan‑ı Atik, on the edges of which, on a pedes­tri­an alley, a Syr­i­an mar­ket, casu­al­ly grows. Since the begin­ning of the ongo­ing con­flict in 2011, Syr­i­ans have set­tled around there and enact­ed some­thing like a raw life : It is not the repro­duc­tion of a Syr­i­an city, but rather the pro­duc­tion of an exile, of a rup­ture, of a tem­po­ral temporalty .
It ’ s not alone the smells famil­iar to Levantines—pungent gar­lic sauce, car­damom and orange blos­som, but besides the reap­pear­ance of a pop­u­lar visu­al cul­ture in the man­ner of Rakowitz : Tra­di­tion­al col­or­ful food pack­ag­ings from Syr­ia and Lebanon are repro­duced in accurate resem­blance of the orig­i­nal with Ara­bic fonts, except that the con­tents are brought overlooked into Turkey from Syr­ia, and then pack­aged here as “ Made in Turkey ”. Are these re-appari­tions place-hold­ers for the misplace lives a well as recon­struc­tions of some­thing else ? Place-hold­ing in a place like Istan­bul works in two direc­tions : not alone do they stand in seat for those who are imme­di­ate­ly miss­ing and are nowadays dis­placed, but are place-hold­ers for those who were dis­placed before them .
When I spoke of tem­po­ral tem­po­ral­i­ty, I besides referred to the pre­car­i­ous­ness of their pres­ence in Istan­bul : Tox­ic nation­al­ism and cycles of pro­pa­gan­da and eco­nom­ic stress, retort to haunt migrants and local minori­ties in Turkey, gen­er­a­tion after gen­er­a­tion, usu­al­ly in the same cos­mopoli­tan loca­tions, con­stant­ly threat­ened with the pos­si­bil­i­ty of pogroms, expul­sions and vio­lence. so when Michael Rakowitz states that the invis­i­ble ene­my shouldn ’ metric ton exist, we won­der, who is the ene­my or the supporter hera ? Rakowitz has always been mindful of the invis­i­bil­i­ty of Iraqis to the Amer­i­can pub­lic except as com­bat­ants and dead bod­ies pre­sent­ed in high def­i­n­i­tion fathom and images on television. Sim­i­lar­ly, minori­ties in Istan­bul, now and in the past, are much only pre­sent­ed as deviants, crim­i­nals and outlaws .
In his sem­i­nal text “ Pol­i­tics of Friend­ship, ” Jacques Der­ri­da tells us that the polit­i­cal as such wouldn ’ thyroxine exist with­out the ene­my and with­out war, and that los­ing the ene­my would mean to lose the polit­i­cal itself. frankincense he con­cludes that accord­ing to the clas­si­cal par­a­digms of pol­i­tics, the ene­my, frequently stranger, has to be made pub­lic, because the sector of the pub­lic emerges alone with the fig­ure of the ene­my. And he asks a ques­tion which would be famil­iar to Michael Rakowitz : What about deriv­ing pol­i­tics from friend­ship and not from hostility ?
Der­ri­da refers to the ques­tion of friend­ship over enmi­ty, as a mem­o­ry locate that con­nects his­to­ry with be expe­ri­ence : “ Friend­ship is nev­er a giv­en in the award ; it belongs to the expe­ri­ence of wait­ing, of promise or engage­ment. Its dis­course is that of prayer, and at stake there is what respon­si­bil­i­ty opens to the future. ” The pres­ence of Rakowitz ’ s re-appari­tions in Istan­bul, against the back­ground of their uncan­ny arche­o­log­i­cal vio­lence, was a bor­der­line kind of tem­po­rari­ness ( the gallery space has already moved else­where, a reg­u­lar occur­rence in the flu­id human geog­ra­phy of Istan­bul, remov­ing the con­text of the re-appari­tions from a phys­i­cal place ), but these ghosts bereaved of sanc­tu­ary, remain in con­ver­sa­tion with the local specters, wait­ing to reap­pear in whichev­er phase they can. Rakowitz ’ randomness cru­cial empha­sis is on the lost lives and com­mu­ni­ties that ulti­mate­ly will nev­er be recon­struct­ed, and in stead of which no arti­fact can stand .
Who is the host here and who is the ghost ? And can ghosts offer a space of hos­pi­tal­i­ty to their own tem­po­rary hosts ? Could this hos­pi­tal­i­ty be trans­lat­ed into the per­ma­nence of tem­po­ral­i­ty ? In his exhi­bi­tions through­out the world, Rakowitz has invit­ed com­mu­ni­ties of Iraqi dias­po­ra to host their own West­ern hosts, in these con­texts constantly going around the root of the re-appari­tion of the by in the frag­ment­ed present. The last­ing prob­lem with the haunt for the host, as I wrote else­where, is that as Der­ri­da points out, the ghost can­not even be called a being because it doesn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate exist—it is both present and non-exis­tent, and there­fore one can­not enter into mourn­ing with ghosts, because ghosts nev­er die, they always keep com­ing back…
But what if the rela­tion­ship between the ghost and the present could be trans­formed into a transtem­po­ral friend­ship, and not a constrained cycli­cal rep­e­ti­tion of a vio­lent past ? With­out a cadaver and a bur­ial, no clo­sure or mourn­ing is ever pos­si­ble. Rakowitz ’ s appari­tions hold the rate of oth­ers who per­ished at ocean or in war or in dan­ger­ous cross­ings, and who can no long speak to us, in the same means that objects from the past practice not speak—it is us who artic­u­late these grand nar­ra­tives. Bro­ken and wing­less, the hush of the Assyr­i­an haunt con­fronts us, but this con­fronta­tion doesn ’ t have to be fear­ful ; it ’ s a consequence of joy, the gladden of mutu­al recog­ni­tion, of sur­vival, across impass­able boundaries .

Michael Rakowitz ’ s “ The Invis­i­ble Ene­my Should not Exist — Sec­tion 1, Room C, North­west Palace ” was on view at PiArt­works, Istan­bul, Octo­ber 28-Decem­ber 25, 2021.

“ Réap­pari­tions ” will be on see at FRAC Lor­raine, Metz, Feb­ru­ary 15-June 12, 2022. Rakowitz ’ s exhi­bi­tion “ Nim­rud, ” at the Wellin Muse­um, in Clin­ton, NY, Octo­ber 19, 2020-June 18, 2021, was short­list­ed as one of the best exhi­bi­tions of 2021 in the Unit­ed States by Hyper­al­ler­gic .

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