Date syrup cans, plaster cast
14 x 45.5 x 5.5 cm [5.5 x 17.9 x 2.2 inches]
Edition of 30, each unique, accompanied by a signed and numbered certificate.
About the work
For his Whitechapel Gallery edition, The Lamassu’s Fallen Feather, Rakowitz has created a series of thirty wall-based reliefs, which relate to his ongoing project The invisible enemy should not exist.
The Lamassu is a large winged bull with the head of a man that from 700 BC guarded the entrance to the Nergal Gate in Nineveh, Iraq. The figure was destroyed by ISIS in 2015. Iraqi-American artist Michael Rakowitz unveiled a life size “reappearance” of the colossal sculpture on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in March 2018 and it will be on display until 2020. The Lamassu forms part of The invisible enemy should not exist series, and as with other elements of this epic project, is made from everyday Iraqi consumer products that include 10,500 empty date syrup cans. As well as lending chromatic lustre to the statue, the packaging offers alternatives to media representations of Iraq dominated by oil or war. It draws attention to the date plantations and an export economy devastated by war; and a diaspora who can still reconnect with their homeland through a delicious cuisine that combines influences from across conflict zones.
For each edition in the series, a plaster cast of the mould originally used to create the feathers on the Lamassu’s wings is embedded with fragments of the Iraqi date syrup cans to create thirty unique sculptures. Like archeological remnants, the feather-cast gives form to the date syrup can fragments, which represent the excess of the material used in making the Lamassu. Rakowitz likens these cast-offs as akin to the fallen feathers one finds in the wake of a winged creature that has taken flight. Thus, the process of making the edition becomes integral to the life of the work, and anticipates the Lamassu’s continued migration, hoping to return to Nineveh.
About the artist
Michael Rakowitz lives and works in Chicago. He is Professor at Chicago’s Northwestern University. His work has been exhibited worldwide including dOCUMENTA (13), P.S.1 MoMA, MassMOCA, Castello di Rivoli, the 16th Biennale of Sydney, the 10th Istanbul Biennial, Sharjah Biennial 8, Tirana Biennale and Transmediale 05. He has had solo exhibitions at Tate Modern (London), Junstraum (Innsbruck) and MCA (Chicago). Rakowitz won the 2018 Fourth Plinth commission for London’s Trafalgar Square and is presenting his sculpture from The invisible enemy should not exist (2007 – ongoing), until 2020.
Michael Rokowitz has had solo exhibitions at Tate Modern (London), Junstraum (Innsbruck) and MCA (Chicago). (13), P.S.1 MoMA, MassMOCA, Castello di Rivoli, the 16th Biennale of Sydney, the 10th Istanbul Biennial, Sharjah Biennial 8, Tirana Biennale and Transmediale 05, 2018 Fourth Plinth commission The invisible enemy should not exist (2007 – ongoing).
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