Iraqi-American artist Michael Rakowitz is one of five artists shortlisted for the Fourth Plinth Commission in Trafalgar Square, London, the most talked about contemporary art prize in the UK. Shortlisted artists also include, Pakistani artist Huma Bhabha, Mexican artist Damián Ortega, British artist Heather Phillipson, and Delhi-based trio Raqs Media Collective.
Rakowitz's proposal is a 14ft long reconstruction of Lamassu, a winged bull and protective deity that stood in the entrance to Nergal Gate, leading into the city of Ninevah from about 700 BC until is was destroyed by ISIS in 2015. Made from empty date syrup cans, the sculpture represents a huge Iraqi industry destroyed by wars.
"The hope is that this project intersects not only the cultural tragedy but the human tragedy and the ecological tragedy, so it becomes an effigy for all those things and it haunts. It is supposed to be a ghost more than a reconstruction."
Two winners, whose works will be installed in 2018 & 2020 respectively, will be announced in March 2017. The shortlisted proposals will be on view at The National Gallery, London through March 26, 2017.