chapter
3 Pages

Michael Rakowitz

Michael Rakowitz combines various forms of sculpture, performance, and design in his highly

aesthetic works. Interested in architecture and urban space, Rakowitz employs “efficacy as

a medium and as a tactic.”1 He looks for solutions to urban problems on the ground, taking

advantage of the existing infrastructure. For example, Rakowitz turned to building exhaust ducts

as a departure point for the site-specific project, paraSITE (1998-2000). paraSITE is a series of

plastic shelters for the homeless that are inflated and heated by the exhaust of the buildings to

which they are attached. A variation on Japanese architect Shigeru Ban’s refugee shelters created

for the homeless after the Kobe earthquake in 1995,2 the project demonstrates Rakowitz’s

effectiveness in addressing an “invisible” population, the homeless, via exhaust ducts, an

engineering system that is considered an eyesore at best. paraSITE explores ways of using public

space in order to help underserved groups.