Destroyed by Islamic State in Mosul, ancient winged bull rises in London

An ancient Assyrian winged bull sculpture destroyed by Islamic State fighters in 2015 and subsequently recast in recycled Middle Eastern food packaging went on display in London’s Trafalgar Square on Wednesday.

Destroyed by IS

A reconstruction, made from date syrup cans, of an ancient Iraqi statue destroyed by Islamic State jihadists was unveiled in London's Trafalgar Square on Wednesday.

The artwork will stand for two years on the empty fourth plinth in the British capital's central square as a monument to the destruction of Iraqi culture since the 2003 US-led invasion.


'The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist'

Created by US conceptual artist Michael Rakowitz, who is of Iraqi Jewish descent, the replica is entitled "The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist".

The statue stands 4.5 metres high, weighs 6,000 kilogrammes and is made from 10,500 empty Iraqi date syrup cans, representing a once-renowned industry laid low by the wars in Iraq.

"I see this work as a ghost of the original and as a placeholder for those human lives that cannot be reconstructed, that are still searching for sanctuary," said Rakowitz.

"The statue, for me, symbolises a lot of things," Rakowitz told AFP.

"It's about the dehumanisation of the Iraqi people and the loss that they incurred."


Lamassu - a winged bull and protective deity

It recreates a Lamassu -- a winged bull and protective deity -- that stood at the gates of Nineveh, northern Iraq, from around 700 BC. It was destroyed by the Islamic State (IS) group in 2015.

The new statue is part of a wider project to recreate more than 7,000 objects looted from the Iraq Museum in 2003 or destroyed at archaeological sites in the aftermath of the Iraq War.


'Act of resistance'

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the artwork was an "act of resistance" against Islamic extremists and philistines.

He claimed that 20 million people would walk past the statue during its two-year run, making it the world's most visible piece of contemporary art.


A loud and clear message

"It sends a message loud and clear: we will not be defied, scared or cowed, we will stay united," Sadiq Khan told AFP.

"Your past defines the future. The idea that you can blow up statues and somehow rewrite history I find appalling."


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