In pictures: Lamassu sculpture by Iraqi-American artist unveiled in London
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A replica of an ancient Assyrian lamassu – a winged bull with a serene human face – that was destroyed by ISIS in Nineveh in 2015 has been unveiled in London’s iconic Trafalgar Square.
Iraqi-American artist Michael Rakowitz built the sculpture out of 10,500 empty date syrup cans. It now occupies the Fourth Plinth of the famous square, which regularly plays host to striking public exhibits outside the National Gallery.
The 14-foot long sculpture, named ‘The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist’, was unveiled to the public on Wednesday as part of a wider exhibition. It faces southeast in the direction of its Iraqi spiritual home.
“The title of the exhibition takes its name from the direct translation of Aj-ibur-shapu, the ancient Babylonian processional way that ran through the Ishtar Gate,” the artist’s website explains.
“The invisible enemy should not exist unfolds as an intricate narrative about the artifacts stolen from the National Museum of Iraq, Baghdad, in the aftermath of the US invasion of April 2003; the current status of their whereabouts; and the series of events surrounding the invasion, the plundering and related protagonists.”
The first-millennium-BC lamassu that Rakowitz based his design on stood at the entrance to Nergal Gate before ISIS militants filmed themselves drilling its face off. It was one of many precious ancient artifacts destroyed by the jihadist group over the course of the three-year war.
“Alluding to the implied invisibility of the museum artifacts … the reconstructions are made from the packaging of Middle Eastern foodstuffs and local Arabic newspapers, moments of cultural visibility found in cities across the United States,” the artist’s site adds.
Earlier works by Rakowitz include a sculpture made out of Saddam Hussein’s dinner plates.
Photos: AFP/Tolga Akmen