Michael Rakowitz, The invisible enemy should not exist (Lamassu of Nineveh) 2018, 10,500 Iraqi date syrup cans, metal frame, 4.7 x 1.7 x 4.5m, Towner Plaza, Eastbourne. Photo by Rob Harris
Michael Rakowitz The invisible enemy should not exist (Lamassu of Nineveh)
Towner Plaza, Eastbourne
Lamassu is a winged bull protective Assyrian deity that stood at the entrance to Nergal Gate of Nineveh from ca. 700 B.C. until February 2015, when ISIS destroyed it along with artefacts in the nearby Mosul Museum. Michael Rakowitz reconstructed the Lamassu for the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, London, using empty metal Iraqi date syrup cans to clad an underlying steel armature.
As with all Rakowitz’ projects, the cycle of materials is important. The salvage of date syrup cans makes present the human, economic and ecological disasters cause by the Iraqi Wars and their aftermath. Iraqi dates were once considered the best in the world and constituted the country’s second largest export after oil. In the late 1970s, the Iraqi date industry listed over 30 million date palms in the country. By the end of the 2003 Iraq War, only 3 million remained.
Michael Rakowitz is an Iraqi-American artist working at the intersection of problem-solving and troublemaking. His work has appeared in venues worldwide and addresses the history of colonialism and extraction in Museums.