Concerned with history and current events, Michael Rakowitz uses his work to explore pressing issues and to invite others into the conversations fostered by his public projects, installations, and events. Like an amateur historian, he begins by fact-finding, making connections whenever possible with people involved in the particular situations upon which he focuses, which range from the personal to the local to the geo-political. Among his first projects is paraSITE (begun 1997), a series of inflatable homes built in consultation with the homeless people who would occupy them. Rakowitz’s own Iraqi-Jewish heritage figures prominently in many of his works, reflecting his deep connection to the country. Since 2004, with his ongoing project, RETURN, he has been attempting to import Iraqi dates into the U.S., the centerpiece of a multipart project that illustrates the cultural richness of this country in crisis.