Public Space With A Roof

Michael Rakowitz

In 1946, my grandfather Nissim Isaac David was exiled from Iraq with his wife Renee and their four children. Proud native Iraqis, they were forced to leave behind a family legacy spanning close to half a millennium that hit an abrupt end when Jews were no longer allowed to live in Baghdad. The family settled in Great Neck, Long Island. The business, Davisons & Co., an import and export company that was among the most successful and active in the Middle East, found a new home in New York City. The business closed in the 1960s and he opened a new business that dealt in hosiery called Dolyvonne (an acronym for the names of his three daughters: Denise, Olivia, and Yvonne). Nissim Isaac David died in 1975. “I reopened my grandfather's import/export business in the form of a package drop box. Visitors to Davisons & Co. will be invited to contribute objects and goods of their choice to be shipped to the city of Baghdad in what will be the inaugural parcel of the resurrected company. The logistical difficulties, and possible failure, of sending this shipment to a country under provisional government and foreign occupation illuminates the futility of “nation-building.” For sender and receiver, statehood ceased to exist. A question of sovereignty thus becomes the transaction. What return can be yielded?”