SADIQ KHAN UNVEILS NEW WORK BY MICHAEL RAKOWITZ ON TRAFALGAR SQUARE’S FOURTH PLINTH
This afternoon in London, Mayor Sadiq revealed the latest commission for Fourth Plinth, a new work The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist by Iraqi-American artist Michael Rakowitz.
The Fourth Plinth is one of the most famous public art commission in the world, beginning in 1994 when Prue Leith, then chair of the Royal Society of Arts suggested using the empty plinth in Trafalgar as a platform for public art commissions. Five years later, it hosted the first artwork, ‘Ecce Homo’ by Mark Wallinger and has since invited leading artists including Yinka Shonibare MBE (2010E) Elmgreen & Dragset (2012), Katharina Fritsch (2013) and Hans Haacke (2016).
The new sculpture titled The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist (2018) is a colourful hybrid lion, eagle and bull which is a recreation of the full scale sculpture of a Lamassu, a protective deity which guarded the Nergal Gate at the entrance of the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh from 700BC until it was destroyed by Daesh in 2015.
The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist is a project that Rakowitz started over a decade ago and it attempts to recreate more than 7,000 objects looted from the Iraq Museum in 2003 or were destroyed at archaeological sites across the country in the aftermath of the war. This recreated Lamassu is made from recycled food packaging, in differently coloured cans of date syrup (10,500 to be precise, and further comments on the loss of a once-renowned industry in Iraq, second to its oil production and obliterated by the ongoing conflict. Rakowitz says of his new commission: “This work is unveiled in Trafalgar Square at a time when we are witnessing a massive migration of people fleeing Iraq and Syria. I see this work as a ghost of the original, and as a placeholder for those human lives that cannot be reconstructed, that are still searching for sanctuary.”
To coincide with the unveiling, Rakowitz will create a limited-edition artwork using date syrup tins sourced from Karbala in Iraq. Each artwork is accompanied by a book of date syrup recipes, inspired by the use of food in art as a way of bridging cultural and political divides. These products will be available at a pop-up at Trafalgar Square on the 28 March, and online at plinth.uk.com.
Featured image: 4th Plinth 2018, Photo by Caroline Teo.