Michael started The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist project in 2006. It attempts to recreate more than 7,000 objects which have been lost forever. 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. This winged bull and protective deity guarded the entrance to Nergal Gate of Nineveh (near modern day Mosul) from c700 BC until it was destroyed by Daesh 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.”
Rebuilding the Lamassu in Trafalgar Square means it can continue to guard the people who live, visit and work in London. It is the twelfth work to appear on the Fourth Plinth since the programme started, and will be there until March 2020.
To coincide with the unveiling, a pop-up event space and cultural hub curated by publisher Plinth was presented at Trafalgar Square on the 28 March 2018.
A new range of products from design company Plinth and the Mayor of London to accompany the work will be available to purchase at the pop-up event. They are inspired by the use of food in Rakowitz’s art as a way of bridging cultural and political divides. The range includes tote bags, wooden spoons and aprons, and feature the Arabic proverb: A House With A Date Palm Will Never Starve.
A portion of the profits from the merchandise sales will go towards supporting the Mayor of London’s educational projects.