Michael Rakowitz in Conversation

This interdisciplinary panel with artist Michael Rakowitz and scholars Magnus Bernhardsson, Alison Gruseke, and Kirsten Scheid explores the historical context and contemporary resonance of Rakowitz's installation "The invisible enemy should not exist (Room Z, Northwest Palace of Nimrud)." This event is preceded by a gallery viewing and reception at the Williams College Museum of Art from 5 to 6 p.m. At 6 p.m., the group will walk across the street to Griffin Hall for the panel discussion.

Michael Rakowitz (b. 1973, New York) is an Iraqi-American conceptual artist who lives and works in Chicago. His work has been exhibited in venues around the globe, including dOCUMENTA (13), The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA PS1, MASS MoCA, Castello di Rivoli, the 16th Biennale of Sydney, the 10th Istanbul Biennial, Sharjah Biennial 8, Tirana Biennale, and Transmediale 05. He has had solo exhibitions at Tate Modern in London, Kunstraum Innsbruck, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. In 2019, Rakowitz will present a solo exhibition at REDCAT in Los Angeles, a major retrospective at Castello di Rivoli in Turin and at the Whitechapel Gallery in London, and will participate in the Sharjah Biennial 14. 

Rakowitz won the 2018 Fourth Plinth commission and is presenting a monumental work from “The invisible enemy should not exist” in London’s Trafalgar Square. For the inaugural FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art (2018), Rakowitz conceived a city-wide participatory project “A Color Removed,” which he conceived in response to the shooting of Tamir Rice by Cleveland police in 2014. 

Magnus Berhardsson is the Brown Professor of History and Faculty Affiliate in Leadership Studies and Religion at Williams College. He specializes in the modern Middle East, specifically the political and cultural history of Hashmite Iraq (1921-1958). After earning his B.A. degree in theology and political science at the University of Iceland, he came to the United States and completed a masters degree in religion from Yale Divinity School in 1992. After a year in Syria studying Arabic, he returned to Yale and finished a Ph.D in Middle Eastern History in 1999. His research centers on modern Middle Eastern history, modern Iraq, nationalism, US-Iraqi relations, and the history of archaeology.

Alison Gruseke is a scholar of the Old Testament and Hebrew Bible. She holds a B.A. from Williams College and an M.A.R. from the Yale Divinity School. She is a PhD candidate in the Department of Religious Studies at Yale University where she is working on her dissertation: “Moses the Mesopotamian: Sargon of Akkad, Moses, and the Production of Geographical Identities in Ancient Israel.” She has taught several winter study courses at Williams College about the Williams College Museum of Art’s Assyrian Reliefs, contextualizing these two works within an understanding of the politics, religion, gender dynamics, and culture of the Neo-Assyrian period.

Kirsten Scheid is associate professor of anthropology at the American University of Beirut, where she studies imagination technologies, artistic materialities, and social change specifically through cases of modern and contemporary Arab art. Her essays appear in Anthropology NowARTMarginsthe International Journal of Middle East Studies, and Museum Anthropology. She has co-curated “The Jerusalem Show” (Jerusalem, 2018) and “The Arab Nude” (Beirut, 2016), and exhibited at the New Museum (2011), and consulted for the Tate Modern (2014) and the MoMA (2016-8). While the Clark/Oakley fellow, Scheid will complete an historically informed ethnography of aesthetic encounters that comprise contemporary Palestine and point to new political imaginings. She is the Clark/Oakley Humanities Fellow at the Clark Art Institute and Williams College.

Michael Rakowitz’s visit to Williams College is generously supported by Thomas Beischer, MA ’96.

November 14, 2019
6 PM

Michael Rakowitz,
Magnus Bernhadsson
Alison Gruseke
Kirsten Scheid

5 PM: Reception and gallery viewing at the Williams College Museum of Art.
6 PM: Michael Rakowitz in Conversation at Griffin Hall, Room 3.

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