Fourth Plinth Finalists for 2018, 2020, Announced
Michael Rakowitz has been shortlisted for the 2018 and 2020 Fourth Plinth commissions in Trafalgar Square, with The Lamassu, part of The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist.
‘Sennacherib, king of the world, king of Assyria, had the inner and outer wall of Nineveh built anew and raised as high as mountains.’
—Translation of cuneiform inscription found on reverse of Lamassu at Nergal Gate, Nineveh
The Fourth Plinth measures roughly 14 feet, the same size as the Lamassu, a winged bull and protective deity that stood at the entrance to the Nergal Gate of Nineveh from c 700 B.C. until February 2015, when it was destroyed by ISIS along with other artifacts in the nearby Mosul Museum. Rebuilding the Lamassu in Trafalgar Square means the sculpture can continue performing his duties as guardian of Nineveh’s past, present and future, even as a refugee or ghost, hoping to one day return to Iraq.
The Lamassu is part of The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist, a project begun by Rakowitz in 2006 that attempts to recreate over 7,000 archeological artifacts looted from the Iraq Museum during the war or destroyed in its aftermath. The reconstructions are made from the recycled packaging of Middle Eastern foodstuffs, similar to how the reliefs at the base of Nelson’s Column were made from canons salvaged from the wreck of HMS Royal George. The Lamassu will be made of empty metal Iraqi date syrup cans, representative of a once-renowned industry now decimated by the Iraq Wars.