A reconstruction, made from date-syrup cans, of an ancient Iraqi statue destroyed by Daesh terrorists was unveiled in London’s Trafalgar Square on Wednesday.
The artwork will stand for two years on the empty fourth plinth in the British capital’s central square as a monument to the destruction of Iraqi culture since the 2003 US-led invasion.
Created by US conceptual artist Michael Rakowitz, who is of Iraqi-Jewish descent, the replica is entitled “The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist.”
“I see this work as a ghost of the original and as a placeholder for those human lives that cannot be reconstructed, that are still searching for sanctuary,” said Rakowitz.
It recreates a Lamassu — a winged bull and protective deity — that stood at the gates of Nineveh, northern Iraq, from about 700 BC. It was destroyed by Daesh in 2015.
The new statue is part of a wider project to recreate more than 7,000 objects looted from the Iraq Museum in 2003 or destroyed at archaeological sites in the aftermath of the Iraq War.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the artwork was an “act of resistance” against extremists and philistines. He claimed that 20 million people would walk past the statue during its two-year run, making it the world’s most visible piece of contemporary art.
“It sends a message loud and clear: we will not be defied, scared or cowed, we will stay united,” Khan said. “Your past defines the future. The idea that you can blow up statues and somehow rewrite history, I find appalling.”
The statue stands 4.5 meters high, weighs 6,000 kg and is made from 10,500 empty Iraqi date-syrup cans, representing a once-renowned industry laid low by the wars in Iraq.