Based between Chicago and New York City, Rakowitz is an Iraqi-American conceptual artist who operates within art spaces and beyond them. With his series paraSITE, Rakowitz built customized, inflatable shelters for the homeless using a mere budget of $5.00 for plastic bags and waterproof tape for each project, and the exterior vents of buildings for heat. In Return, produced by Creative Time in 2004, Rakowitz reopened his grandfather’s import and export business, Davison’s & Co., which first operated in Baghdad and then relocated to New York when his family was exiled in 1946. Rakowitz’s resurrected family business offered free shipping to Iraq three months after the U.S. declared stifling trade restrictions on the country. Spoils of 2011, another Rakowitz and Creative Time collaboration, took a more provocative and personal approach to American-Iraqi relations. Housed at Park Avenue Autumn restaurant, the “culinary/art experience” provided patrons with rich traditional Iraqi dishes served on rare pieces of fine China from Saddam Hussein’s personal collection. More surprising than the sensory tensions experienced by each diner, notably the contrast between the “sweetness of the Iraqi date syrup, and the…bitter provenance of the dishware,” was the dramatic conclusion of the project. A cease-and-desist letter from the State Department calling for the “surrender” of the platesabruptly ended Spoils, and resultedin their return to Iraqi territory. It was, according to Rakowitz, a “kind of perfect” ending to the project.

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Claire Doherty is the founder Director of Situations, an art commissioning and publishing organisation based in Bristol, who were the producers of Nowhereisland, one of the primary public art projects of the UK’s London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Over the past ten years, Situations has been responsible for artworks which open up new and surprising encounters in the public realm: from-off artistic interventions (such as Heather and Ivan Morison’s Black Cloud now installed at the Hepworth, Wakefield) to cumulative programs of temporary commissions such as One Day Sculpture, New Zealand. Claire has worked with artists of international repute including Susan Hiller, Phil Collins, Tim Etchells, Thomas Hirschhorn and Jeppe Hein, with a particular emphasis on new forms of engagement and research. Situations is currently pioneering a new program of work in Oslo, Norway, along with new works for Bristol by writer Tony White and artist Anna Barriball. Claire has written and lectured extensively on contemporary art commissioning. Her books include Contemporary Art: From Studio to Situation (Black Dog Publishing, 2004); Situation (Whitechapel/MIT Press, 2009), Locating the Producers: Durational Approaches to Public Art (2010) and the forthcoming Out of Time and Place: Public Art Now (2013). She advised the Olympic Park Public Realm Advisory Committee and in 2009, was awarded a Paul Hamlyn Breakthrough Award as an outstanding cultural entrepreneur. She is the Chair of the European Network of Public Art Producers. / @SituationsUK / @ccdbristol

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Since 2002, Tom Finkelpearl has served as the Executive Director of the Queens Museum of Art, which operates as a cultural crossroads in America’s most diverse county through art programs, community organizing, and educational outreach. Finkelpearl was previously Deputy Director at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center during its merger with the Museum of Modern Art, and has also worked as the Director of New York City’s Percent for Art Program and as the Executive Director of The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. Finkelpearl’s book Dialogues in Public Art (MIT Press) was published in 2000. His new book, What We Make: Conversations on Art and Social Cooperation, has been released by Duke University Press (January 2013). Finkelpearl received a BA from Princeton University and an MFA from Hunter College, CUNY.

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