From the rubble … Rakowitz’s fourth plinth work, The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist, is unveiled this week. Photograph: Carl Court/Gettty.
In February 2015, Isis militants videoed themselves drilling the face off one of the commanding stone statues that had guarded the gates of the ancient city of Nineveh for more than a thousand years.
The lamassu – winged bulls with serene human faces – were among the most monumental casualties of a spree of destruction that over just a few days reduced many of Iraq’s most precious artefacts to pebbles.
On 28 March, 2018, the life-sized “ghost” of one of these fabulous Assyrian creatures will be unveiled atop the fourth plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square, where it will stand with its back to the National Gallery, gazing south-east past the Foreign Office and the Houses of Parliament towards its spiritual home in the Middle East.
The 14ft-long statue is both a one-off statement and part of an ambitious long-term project by Michael Rakowitz, a 44-year-old Iraqi-American who has become one of the world’s most political – and powerful – artist-provocateurs.
The aim of The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist is no less than to reconstruct all 7,000 objects known to have been looted from the National Museum of Iraq in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion by the US-led coalition.