Michael Rakowitz. Imperfect Binding

Michael Rakowitz. Imperfect Binding

Drafted by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Iwona Blazwic, Marianna Vecellio 

October 8, 2019 – January 19, 2020

Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art is proud to present on October 7th 2019 the first survey exhibition in Europe featuring Iraqi-American artist Michael Rakowitz (Great Neck, NY, 1973), winner of the prestigious Nasher Prize 2020, announced today. This award recognizes a living artist whose body of work has had an extraordinary impact on our understanding of sculpture. Previous award winners have been Doris Salcedo, Iza Genzken, Pierre Huyghe and Theaster Gates.

The exhibition is co-organised with Whitechapel Gallery, London, and drafted by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev and Iwona Blazwick along with Castello di Rivoli Curator Marianna Vecellio and Whitechapel Gallery Curator Habda Rashid. In Spring 2020, it will travel to the Jameel Arts Center, Dubai.

Rakowitz’s complex body of work includes sculptures, drawings, installations, video, collaborative and performative projects. The exhibition presents major artworks envisioned in his over-twenty-year practice traversing architecture, archeology, cooking practice, and geopolitics from ancient times to nowadays. His artworks speak with an urgent voice to historic turning points due to wars or other trauma, with an acute perspective poised to critique the paradoxes and contradictions of globalization.

On view at Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art from October 8, 2019, the exhibition establishes a dialogue with Lamassu, 2018, a human headed winged bull that Michael Rakowitz reconstructed from an Assyrian statue as part of his project Fourth Plinth, standing on Trafalgar Square’s, London, until March 2020.

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Director of Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art, affirms: “Highly sensitive and empathetic towards human suffering and pain, Rakowitz is well known for his relational and public participatory projects, also conveyed within art contexts such as museums or galleries.”

In his review of the Whitechapel presentation of this same exhibition in ‘The Guardian, art critic Adrian Searle has stated; “Michael Rakowitz’s fascinating […] show is filled with surprises. It is also an exhausting experience. Rakowitz’s work feeds on backstories and explications. […] Stick around, you might learn something – and find yourself moved, and angered, and overwhelmed.”

On the occasion of the exhibition, a comprehensive and scholarly illustrated catalog, edited by Castello di Rivoli, has been published. It contains essays by Christov-Bakargiev, Habda Rashid, Nora Razian, Ella Shohat, and Marianna Vecellio along with an interview with the artist by Iwona Blazwick. The publication also includes an exhibition chronology and an anthology of critical texts and interviews, organized and compiled by Marianna Vecellio.

As an addition to the survey, a newly commissioned artwork by Michael Rakowitz is presented in the frame of the exhibition. Paying homage to the Cerruti Collection and the sets of skills the collector and entrepreneur Francesco Federico Cerruti (Genova, 1922 – Turin, 2015) brought to Italy over the years of his company Legatoria Industriale Torinese (LIT), Rakowitz commissioned Luciano Fagnola, a master crafts bookbinder and friend of Cerruti’s,  to rebind a Hebrew and Arabic-Jewish prayer book printed in 1935, belonging to the dispersed Iraqi Jewish community, from which the artist’s maternal family comes from. Even though damaged volumes should be buried, according to Jewish tradition, the artist brought his own to Turin to repair their words and generate a new artwork from memories and collaboration with a binder. This artwork, titled Imperfect Binding. A Homage to Francesco Federico Cerruti2019, is on view at Castello di Rivoli and has been gifted to the museum.


Exhibition Press Release

CS_Michael Rakowitz_ ENG_def 06.09.2019

photo: The invisible enemy should not exist (Northwest Palace of Nimrud, Room N), 2018 [detail], Collection Elie Kouri Art Foundation, courtesy the artist, Galerie Barbara Wien and Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea