Michael Rakowitz is the latest artist to take over the Fourth Plinth.
The mystery of how Trafalgar Square ended up with an empty plinth is simple: they ran out of money. An extravagant beautification project went bust before completion, meaning that William IV’s loss (it was his statue they couldn’t afford) became London’s gain. Since 1999, the Fourth Plinth has become one of the capital’s finest public art spaces, and the most recent addition has just been unveiled.
‘The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist’ took up residence this morning, the creation of Iraqi-American Michael Rakowitz. It is a recreation of the Lamassu, a giant winged bull who once guarded the gates of ancient Nineveh, now in modern-day Iraq. Sadly, the Lamassu was destroyed by ISIS when they took Nineveh in 2015. Rakowitz, who has made a career of recreating ancient objects lost forever, has constructed the statue out of 10,500 date syrup tins, in order to reflect on the turmoil of Iraq and the upheaval of its way of life.
The tin Lamassu will occupy the Fourth Plinth until 2020, and it becomes the twelfth artwork to be displayed here. It replaces David Shrigley’s ‘Really Good’, which has given Londoners a big thumbs up for the past two years.
Before that, the Fourth Plinth hosted a skeletal horse and, somewhat memorably, a giant blue cock.
Anthony Gormley’s landmark ‘One & Other’, also spent time on the Fourth Plinth, allowing 2400 Brits to spend an hour each on the podium, doing whatever the hell they wanted. Other installations include ‘Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle’, now at Greenwich’s National Maritime Museum, and this golden effort from 2012, named ‘Powerless Structure, Fig. 101’.
You can see ‘The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist’ in Trafalgar Square until 2020. Or for other poignant artworks, check out the moving Project 84 piece on the South Bank.
Featured image: @sallysarahshaw