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Michael Rakowitz: The Waiting Gardens of the North

Wed – Sun, 10am – 6pm

Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art

Commissioned by Baltic in partnership with the IWM 14-18 NOW Legacy Fund, Iraqi-American artist Michael Rakowitz' The Waiting Gardens of the North responds to conflict by, figuratively and literally, nurturing a community and an evolving indoor garden landscape.

The Waiting Gardens of the North is centred around a relief panel from the North Palace of Ashurbanipal (668–631 BCE) in Nineveh depicting the Assyrian gardens, believed to have preceded what is now known as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The original panel has been housed in the British Museum since 1856. The exhibition sees Rakowitz recreate this panel in a monumental scale, using his signature collage technique with food packaging, locally sourced from South Asian and African grocery stores.

Rakowitz’ exhibition has been conceived as a garden that will continue to grow and develop during its run. Alongside newly created artworks, the installation will present a collection of plants at different stages of their growing process. Born out of collaboration with people living in Gateshead and Newcastle with experience of forced displacement, Rakowitz’ ruined garden acts as a metaphor for the overlapping histories of displacement, war, oppression, trauma and adaptation, that people, cultural objects and plants carry with them. Collaborating with the organisations The Comfrey ProjectWest End Refugee Service (WERS)Scotswood GardenDilston Physic Garden, Herb Hub, and Baltic’s Language Café has been instrumental to realising the project and its ongoing activation.

Michael Rakowitz (b. 1973, Long Island, NY, USA) is an Iraqi-American artist based in Chicago, working at the intersection of problem-solving and troublemaking. His work has appeared in venues worldwide including dOCUMENTA (13), P.S.1, MoMA, MassMOCA, Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Palais de Tokyo, the 16th Biennale of Sydney, the 10th and 14th Istanbul Biennials, Sharjah Biennial 8, Tirana Biennale, National Design Triennial at the Cooper-Hewitt, Transmediale 05, FRONT Triennial in Cleveland, and CURRENT: LA Public Art Triennial.

He was awarded the 2018-2020 Fourth Plinth commission in London’s Trafalgar Square. He is the recipient of the 2020 Nasher Prize; the 2018 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts; a 2012 Tiffany Foundation Award; a 2008 Creative Capital Grant; a Sharjah Biennial Jury Award; a 2006 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship Grant in Architecture and Environmental Structures; the 2003 Dena Foundation Award, and the 2002 Design 21 Grand Prix from UNESCO.

Solo projects and exhibitions include Creative Time, Tate Modern in London, The Wellin Museum of Art, MCA Chicago, Lombard Freid Gallery and Jane Lombard Gallery in New York, SITE Santa Fe, Galerie Barbara Wien in Berlin, Rhona Hoffman Gallery in Chicago, Malmö Konsthall, Tensta Konsthall, and Kunstraum Innsbruck, and Waterfronts – England’s Creative Coast.