In 2006 Michael Rakowitz started his project The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist to recreate over 7,000 archaeological artefacts looted from the Iraq Museum during the war or destroyed elsewhere.
One of these was the Lamassu, a winged deity. It guarded Nergal Gate at the entrance to the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh, near modern-day Mosul, Iraq in c700 B.C. until 2015 when it was destroyed by ISIS.
The Lamassu, which had the same footprint as the Fourth Plinth, is made of empty Iraqi date syrup cans, representative of a once-renowned industry decimated by the Iraq Wars. Rebuilding the Lamassu means it can symbolically continue as guardian of a city’s past, present and future. The inscription written on the Lamassu reads:
‘Sennacherib, king of the world, king of Assyria, had the inner and outer wall of Nineveh built anew and raised as high as mountains’
This is the 12th commission in the Mayor of London’s Fourth Plinth Programme, the most talked about public art prize in the world