Michael started The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist project in 2006. It attempts to recreate more than 7,000 objects which have been lost. Some were looted from the Iraq Museum in 2003, while others were destroyed at archaeological sites across the country during the Iraq War.
For the Fourth Plinth, Rakowitz has recreated the Lamassu. The winged bull and protective deity which guarded the entrance to Nergal Gate of Nineveh (near modern day Mosul) from c700 BC until it was destroyed in 2015.
The reconstructions in The Invisible Enemy project are made from recycled packaging from Middle Eastern foodstuffs. The Lamassu is made from 10,500 empty Iraqi date syrup cans. This represents a once-renowned industry now decimated by war.
The inscription is written in Cuneiform, one of the earliest systems of writing, on the side of the Lamassu reads: “Sennacherib, king of the world, king of Assyria, had the inner and outer wall of Ninevah built anew and raised as high as mountains.”
Initial reaction to the sculpture was largely favourable with many admiring the way that it highlights the way that destruction of important objects of a culture can have a negative effect on a population.
The Lamassu in Trafalgar Square is the 12th work to appear on the Fourth Plinth since the programme started, and will be there until March 2020.
The Fourth Plinth as it is known has quite an unusual history, it was intended to be used for a equestrian statue of William IV astride a bronze horse to match the statue of George IV which is on the other side of the square. However George IV spent so much money during his reign that there was not enough funds left for the statue.
Remarkably, considering the square is a major public area, the plinth was empty for more than 150 years. Eventually it was decided that temporary modern pieces of work would occupy the plinth. The final choice is often controversial but is a focus of interest which generates considerable media interest.
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