• Monday: 10am-5pm
  • Tuesday-Wednesday: Closed
  • Thursday: 10am-5pm
  • Friday: 10am-7pm
  • Saturday: 10am-5pm
  • Sunday: 10am-5pm

1606 Paseo de Peralta
Santa Fe, NM 87501


SITElab 10


SITE SANTA FE presents a solo exhibition of Chicago-based, Iraqi-American artist Michael Rakowitz opening in the SITElab on May 25, 2018 through August 18, 2018. In his work, Michael Rakowitz attempts to undo the cultural erasure of Iraq and recreate antiquities that have been destroyed, looted, and removed from Iraq’s museums and ancient sites. Through Rakowitz’s works in sculpture, drawing, and video, lost or stolen objects of significant cultural patrimony are given new life for new audiences in a new era.

Central to this exhibition is the work The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist, (2007-ongoing), a collection of full-scale replicas of objects looted from the Iraqi National Museum in the aftermath of the US invasion of April 2003. The artist, with a team of assistants, construct each item from recycled materials such as the packaging of Middle Eastern foodstuffs and local Arabic newspapers. Each object was created using the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute database, information posted on Interpol’s website, and through information gathered from the artist’s communications with the late curator of the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad. This work represents an ongoing commitment to recuperate the over 7,000 objects that remain missing. The title of this work is a translation of the street that ran through the gate of Ishtar in ancient Babylon. In 1899 the gate was excavated by a German archeologist who then shipped it to Berlin where it still stands in the Pergamon Museum.

Other works in the exhibition include:

May the Obdurate Foe Not Stay in Good Health (2016-ongoing), a work that focuses on objects destroyed, or looted in Syria since the beginning of that country’s civil war in March 2011. Reconstructions of these artifacts are made from the packaging of Syrian foodstuffs imported to the US—products that have become increasingly scarce as the war continues to erode the country’s infrastructure, destroy its environment and its people.

The worst condition is to pass under a sword which is not one’s own (2009), a work that traces links between western science fiction and military-industrial activities in Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s regime.

The Ballad of Special Ops Cody (2017), a stop-motion video, featuring a GI Joe action figure who finds himself in the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute galleries where he encounters and tries to rescue a collection of Iraqi artifacts.

Spoils (2011), documentation of long-term project that involved the artist serving Iraqi date syrup and venison on the very china that Saddam Hussein once used in his opulent Baghdad palace.

SITElab 10: Michael Rakowitz is generously supported by Andy Wallerstein and Mary Sloane, Cornelia Bryer and Herman Siegelaar, and the patrons of SITE Forum.

Artist Bios

Michael Rakowitz