Michael Rakowitz's Fourth Plinth revealed
Last week, we braved some classic English rain to watch the unveiling of the latest Fourth Plinth installation in Trafalgar Square. There have now been 12 different pieces of art featured on the plinth since 1998, and we think this is one of the most beautiful yet. Find out more below, and don't miss our video of the moment it was unveiled at the bottom.
The statue is a recreation of the Lamassu, a mythical deity which takes the form of a winged bull. Since 700 BC, the Lamassu had stood alongside the entrance to Nergal Gate of Nineveh (near contemporary Mosul in Iraq), until ISIS destroyed it three years ago. By pure coincidence, the base of the original Lamassu was the same size as the Fourth Plinth, so Rakowitz knew this was the perfect piece to recreate.
Constructed from 10,500 Iraqi date syrup cans, the Lamassu's building blocks are also symbolic: after oil, date syrup was Iraq’s second-biggest export, but the industry has been shattered almost entirely by the Iraq Wars.
The sculpture is part of Rakowitz’s larger project, called The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist. His aim is to completely recreate over 7,000 items that were stolen from the Iraq Museum in 2003, as well as many of Iraq’s historical sites which have been lost to war since. At the unveiling, Rakowitz proclaimed that ‘this work is a ghost of the original, and as a placeholder for those human lives that cannot be reconstructed, that are still searching for sanctuary’.
When we arrived the Fourth Plinth Lamassu was completely covered by a black sheet, which was dramatically pulled away while figures including The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, made speeches. Khan said that ‘Michael’s work shows the power of art to bring to life politics, cultures and personal stories from around the world and across generations’.
Find out more at www.london.gov.uk.
The new sculpture upon Trafalgar Square's #fourthplinth has just been unveiled – and it's really beautiful. The winged bull was made entirely from Iraqi date syrup cans by the artist Michael Rakowitz #london #trafalgarsquare #thefourthplinth pic.twitter.com/o1stqQvaEX— Where London (@WhereLondon) March 28, 2018