In this episode of A brush with..., Ben Luke talks to the Iraqi-American artist Michael Rakowitz. Born in Long Island, New York in 1973 and now based in Chicago, Rakowitz's work examines the history of cultural patrimony and the politics of heritage. Best known for his conceptual works of art, he often uses public sites to illuminate the histories of the Middle East, the present day lives of those amid conflict and the legacies of Western colonialism.
In this interview, Rakowitz discusses his recently unveiled public sculpture in Margate, April Is the Cruellest Month, with its nods to TS Eliot and Siegfried Sassoon. He speaks about his fusing of his autobiography—and particularly the influence of his mother’s Iraqi Jewish family—with global geopolitics. Plus, he reveals his earliest influences and the contemporary artists, writers and musicians that most inspire him, from Gordon Matta-Clark to Leonard Cohen. And, as with all the guests on the A brush with..., podcast, he answers the ultimate question: what is art for?