Artist Michael Rakowitz will join for a post-screening conversation.

Sunday, April 13, 1:00 p.m. | Join Art21 for a special screening and conversation with celebrated artist Michael Rakowitz. The program will begin with a screening of the Art21 Extended Play film HAUNTING THE WEST (12 min.) featuring Rakowitz. Following the screening, the artist will join for a conversation with Dr. Alda Benjamin and Jurrell Lewis.  

EXPO ChicagoArt 21

Michael Rakowitz was born in 1973 in Great Neck, NY. The artist draws upon extensive research on cultural objects and events, in order to weave together complex histories and unlikely symbols in his sculptures, installations, participatory workshops, films, and architectural interventions. His Iraqi-Jewish heritage and the damage caused by long conflicts between the West and the Middle East also serve as important influences for his work. Rakowitz critiques the ongoing forces of colonization, bringing attention not only to the value of cultural artifacts that have been lost, looted, or destroyed but also to the people who have suffered from continuing violence. His work asks viewers to reconsider the relationships between hospitality and hostility, and provenance and expropriation, and to confront the complicity of cultural institutions and audiences in geopolitical matters.

Dr. Alda Benjamin
Dr. Alda Benjamen is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Dayton where she teaches courses on the modern history of the Middle East. Recently, she was the Avimalek Betyousef Faculty Fellow in the Department of History and the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to that, she was Fellow at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania Museum and the Smithsonian. She is the research director of a cultural preservation project that documents the heritage of minoritized communities in Iraq. Benjamen is the author of Assyrians in Modern Iraq: Negotiating Political and Cultural Space (Cambridge University Press, February 2022), a monograph on twentieth-century Iraqi intellectual history based on extensive primary research from within the country. 

Jurrell Lewis
Jurrell Lewis is an artist and curator, who joined Art21 in November 2020 and is currently the Assistant Curator. Prior to joining Art21, Jurrell completed his Master of Fine Arts from Northwestern University’s Art, Theory, Practice Department and worked as an artist, administrator, and writer in Chicago, IL. Jurrell has taught courses on contemporary art, curated artist-centered programming, exhibited work in the United States and Europe, and most recently co-directed and performed in a production of The Measures Taken, written by Bertolt Brecht. Jurrell holds B.A.s in Fundamentals: Issues and Texts and Visual Arts from the University of Chicago and an M.F.A. from Northwestern University.

The Film Center is ADA accessible. This presentation will be projected without open captions. The theater is hearing-loop equipped. For accessibility requests, please email