Marisa Mazria Katz is a New York-based writer who has covered culture and politics in cities that include Casablanca, Kabul, Port-au-Prince, and Istanbul. Her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Time, Vogue, and The New York Times. She has run, since its launch in October 2018, the Eyebeam Center for the Future of Journalism. (July 2019)
Marisa Mazria Katz: Why did you position the Lamassu this way?
Michael Rakowitz: I decided there was no way that I was going to allow for this Lamassu to look like it is one more piece that is going to be sheltered in this Western museum. I’m very happy to say that the Lamassu stands there with its ass to the museum and it’s actually looking southeast toward Parliament, and toward the Foreign Office where the decision to enter the Iraq War was made. It’s also looking past them, toward Nineveh, toward Iraq, hoping that it will return one day.
Like many in the ruling coalition, the Culture Minister Miri Regev is openly against the establishment of a Palestinian state and has proposed annexing parts of the West Bank. She curries favor well with voters, in part because she fuses her political agenda with her promise to upend the monopoly that Israel’s Ashkenazi elite has had on the country’s cultural establishment. While Regev’s tenure may not represent a permanent, more coercive and censorious change in how the arts are funded in Israel, she embodies the sea-change in Israeli society, from a country that downplayed its inequities and declining democratic norms, to one that flaunts them.