New artwork on Trafalgar Square fourth plinth unveiled… a recreation of a statue destroyed by ISIS

The latest artwork for the fourth plinth at Trafalgar Square was unveiled today.

The piece by Artist Michael Rakowitz is designed as a tribute to “something good in the human spirit”.

Mr Rakowitz created the new sculpture, called The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist, as a recreation of a statue destroyed by ISIS in 2015.

The 44-year-old from Chicago, whose family left Iraq in 1946, said he did not want to make an exact copy of the original work which stood in the ancient city of Nineveh near the site of modern day Mosul.

The fourth plinth artwork entitled The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist (Jeremy Selwyn)

He said: “I think the impetus to rebuild is indicative of something good in the human spirit but I think of the things that I make as being ghosts or apparitions of what the artefacts were.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan and artist Michael Rakowitz at today’s unveiling (Jeremy Selwyn)

The sculpture, which shows a mythical winged beast called a Lamassu, is 4.5 metres high, took four months to build and is made up of 10,500 empty Iraqi date syrup cans symbolising one of the country’s former thriving industries shattered by war.

The shroud is removed from the new fourth plinth at Trafalgar Square (Jeremy Selwyn)

It weighs 6,000kgs and is held together by 39,500 rivets.

Rakowitz started his project 11 years ago in an attempt to recreate the thousands of artefacts destroyed or stolen from museums and ancient sites in Iraq and Syria and has made around 750 so far and admits he will probably never finish the work.

The new artwork for the fourth plinth at Trafalgar Square was unveiled today (Jeremy Selwyn)

He said he wanted the sculpture to represent the history of Iraq and its “complex” relationship with Britain,

He said: “It is traumatic and there are all different things that are part of that relationship but I’m not interested in doing work that is simple sloganeering so it is about the richness of that relationship despite all the traumas.”

Michael Rakowitz on replacing David Shrigley’s fourth plinth sculpture

It is the 12th sculpture to occupy the empty plinth with previous work including Marc Quinn’s statue of pregnant artist Alison Lapper and Yinka Shonibare’s giant ship in a bottle.

In 2009, Antony Gormley took over the space and allowed members of the public to stand on the empty plinth for an hour at a time with thousands of volunteers taking part.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who officially unveiled the sculpture, said: “I am delighted to unveil this new work by Michael Rakowitz, the next sculpture to be featured on the Fourth Plinth – the world’s most famous public art platform.

“Michael’s work shows the power of art to bring to life politics, cultures and personal stories from around the world and across generations.”

The plinth was meant to hold a statue of King William IV on horseback but the project ran out of money and stalled until 1994 when Prue Leith, then chair of the Royal Society of Arts. wrote a letter to the Evening Standard suggesting something should be done about it.

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