In defense of blankness over busyness: an anti-master class on cooking dinner at the end of the day or Toasts

Michael Rakowitz
April 30, 2020, 20:00

Hi. How are you? It’s been two years since we were together. And now, well, asking how are you means something much more than a passing greeting to which few ever wait to hear a response.

I miss you all, I miss Bethlehem, and I miss Dar Jacir. We are all being kept from our loved ones, the places we wish to visit. Those who have lost someone close to them have not been allowed to say goodbye, or even grieve collectively. For many, this is not new. For many, it is.

I will not overburden our time together drawing unjust parallels, nor will I ask for our workshop to contribute yet another piece of consumable content to the never-ending cycle of production that deludes us into thinking that the world that existed before will return, or worse, that we are still living in it.

At the end of my daily routine, teaching sculpture classes online for hours, staring into a screen, I insist on cooking dinner for my family. It is the closest thing to a speechless act that I am able to engage in while being urged to entertain people all day. It is the only meditative space that has opened up where there isn’t a constant barrage of information or engagement. A true introspective retreat.

I remember our time together, cooking on that last day of the workshop at Dar Jacir. It was a distillation of all we spoke about on the subject of hospitality and hostility.

On April 30th, I invite all of you to cook dinner with me. This will afford us time to have intimate discussion, to continue the vector of our thinking that began in May 2018.

As a gift, I offer you the PDF of my cookbook, A House With A Date Palm Will Never Starve. You are invited to make a dish from that book, or something else. My one request is that you all develop a toast to recite during our meal, proposing something visionary into the blank space that sits before us, rather than the insistence that what returns to that space is business as usual.

Michael Rakowitz is an artist living and working in Chicago. His work has appeared in venues worldwide including dOCUMENTA (13), P.S.1, MoMA, MassMOCA, Castello di Rivoli, the 16th Biennale of Sydney, the 10th and 14th Istanbul Biennials, Sharjah Biennial 8, Tirana Biennale, National Design Triennial at the Cooper-Hewitt, and Transmediale 05. He has had solo projects and exhibitions with Creative Time, Tate Modern in London, MCA Chicago, Lombard Freid Gallery in New York, Galerie Barbara Wien, Berlin, Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago and KunstraumInnsbruck. He is the recipient of the 2018 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts; a 2012 Tiffany Foundation Award; a 2008 Creative Capital Grant; a Sharjah Biennial Jury Award; a 2006 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship Grant in Architecture and Environmental Structures; the 2003 Dena Foundation Award, and the 2002 Design 21 Grand Prix from UNESCO. He was awarded the Fourth Plinth commission in London’s Trafalgar Square, which was on view from 2018 through 2020. A survey of his work premiered at Whitechapel Gallery in London  in June 2019, and subsequently traveled to the Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea in Torino, Italy and the Jameel Art Centre in Dubai . A new comission, titled April is the cruelest month, will be unveiled next year with Turner Contemporary in Margate as part of England’s Cultural Coast initiative. Rakowitz was is the 2020 Public Art Dialogue awardee, and was named the 2020 Nasher Sculpture Prize Laureate. He is Professor of Art Theory and Practice at Northwestern University.

In April 2018, Michael Rakowitz led our very first workshop at Dar Jacir entitled: On the question of making art in cities under siege: exploring the intersection of hospitality and hostility.

This seminar was part of Dar Jacir's online program organized in response to the coronavirus emergency. Foregrounding solidarity and care our program focused on bringing together our family of artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers and dancers to lead programs and remain connected while we are physically separated.

Dar Yusuf Nasri Jacir for Art and Research
Al Khalil Road,Bethlehem, West Bank

T: +970 2 274 3257

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