Podcast

Michael Rakowitz Discusses Withdrawing from the 2019 Whitney Biennial, and His Leonard Cohen Problem

The artist shares his thoughts on museums, power, art, and ideology.

“The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist” by Michael Rakowitz in London’s Trafalgar Square (photo from Tony Hisgett’s Flickrstream)

When news that Michael Rakowitz withdrew from the 2019 Whitney Biennial was published by the New York Times on February 25, people wondered why the Iraqi-American artist decided to sit out the biannual art event.

Later, in April, when the Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything opened at the Jewish Museum, many people noticed that Rakowitz’s work about the renowned Canadian crooner’s relationship with Zionism and Israel — which appeared in the original exhibition at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal — wasn’t there. Why?

Rakowitz talks to me about the controversies with both exhibitions and his thoughts on museums and power. He also reads his 2015 letter to Leonard Cohen, which he mailed to the singer a year before the legend died.

And, as a special treat, the music in this podcast is performed by Rakowitz himself.

This and more in our current episode of our weekly Art Movements podcast.

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