2018 Triennial Archive

Michael Rakowitz

SPACES Gallery
2900 Detroit Rd.
Cleveland, OH 44113
Tues–Sun: 12–5, Thurs: 12–8

“If you want to know how a system works, introduce a coloring agent.”
—Emily Binet Royall

A Color Removed is a city-wide participatory project grounded in the impossible gesture of removing the color orange from Cleveland and suspending its future use. 

The presence of orange, as a symbol of safety, encourages complacency. But what if we could trust that safety is a right guaranteed to everyone who travels in, through, and around Cleveland? What if orange was rendered superfluous? A Color Removed addresses the underlying questions regarding the right to safety by encouraging community members to deconstruct its symbols and create solidarity for a more peaceful city.

A Color Removed formally commenced with a public letter writing campaign in the fall of 2017 and continues with an open call for orange objects to be accumulated in collection bins installed throughout Cleveland. Clothing, toys, sports equipment, household items, etc. will be catalogued and displayed at SPACES from July 15 to September 30, 2018. The enlistment of community members in surrendering orange objects and developing responses to the supersaturated orange display at SPACES is an invitation to a difficult and ongoing conversation around the forces that shape safety in American cities, including gun violence and community-police relations, as well as the overlapping impacts connecting characteristics that are targeted for oppression. Facilitated discussions and workshops will be conducted by partner organizations, project collaborators, and neighbors, and housed within the monochrome A Color Removed display at SPACES, where fearless listening enables fearless speaking.

A Color Removed was conceived by Michael Rakowitz, as a response to the shooting of Tamir Rice by Cleveland police, and was debuted during his 2015 Beamer-Schneider Lecture in Ethics and Civic at Case Western Reserve University. The project is organized by SPACES and presented as part of FRONT International, An American City: 11 Cultural Exercises. A full list of collaborators and collection bin hosts will be made available during the exhibition.

Michael Rakowitz (b. 1973, New York) lives and works in Chicago. His work has appeared in venues worldwide, including dOCUMENTA (13), P.S.1, MoMA, MassMOCA, the 16th Biennale of Sydney, the 10th Istanbul Biennial, Sharjah Biennial 8, Tirana Biennale, National Design Triennial at the Cooper-Hewitt, and Transmediale 05. He has had solo exhibitions at Tate Modern (London), Lombard Freid Gallery (NYC), Alberto Peola Arte Contemporanea (Torino), and Kunstraum (Innsbruck) and is Professor of Art Theory and Practice at Northwestern University.

In 1998 Rakowitz initiated paraSITE, an ongoing project of custom-built inflatable shelters for homeless people that attach to the exterior outtake vents of a building’s HVAC system. Enemy Kitchen (2003 – ongoing) is a food truck serving Iraqi food in Chicago, staffed by Iraq War veterans working under Iraqi refugee chefs. Creative Time commissioned Rakowitz in 2011 for Spoils, a culinary intervention at NYC’s Park Avenue Autumn restaurant that invited diners to eat off of plates looted from Saddam Hussein’s palaces. The project culminated in the repatriation of the former Iraqi President’s flatware. Rakowitz was recently awarded the 2018-20 public art commission for the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, London. He is a Professor of Art Theory and Practice at Northwestern University and is represented by Jane Lombard Gallery, NYC, and Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago.