Drawing upon his Iraqi-Jewish heritage, Michael Rakowitz critiques ongoing systems of colonization in his sculptural and participatory work. The artist recounts a formative memory from his childhood, when his mother took him to see reliefs depicting the lion hunt of Ashurbanipal in the Assyrian galleries at the British Museum and posed the question, “What is this doing here?” For Rakowitz, this moment crystalized his understanding of museums as places of extraction, colonization, and crime. In his work today, Rakowitiz explores ways to subvert the imperialist role of museums, interrogate the value they place on objects over people, and create ongoing systems for repair and accountability.
Wajib, or A Duty, is an experimental short film that explores the Koufiyyeh Scarf as mask-- something that can protect.
This film is an intimate response to a recent personal experience that occurred in New York City, one month before the Covid-19 shutdown. A passerby pointed to the scarf around my neck and called it, "a terrorist scarf."