Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Juice Can God

This is a sculpture by Michael Rakowitz that now occupies the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square. It's a recreation of the Lamassu, a winged deity that guarded one of the city gates of Nineveh, in present-day Iraq, from 700 B.C. until ISIS demolished it in 2015.

Rakowitz has been working since 2006 on a project called "The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist" aiming to recreate some 7,000 artworks looted from Iraq's archaeological museum or destroyed elsewhere. This sculpture is especially interesting because it's made of empty Iraqi date syrup cans, "representative of a once-renowned industry decimated by the Iraq wars," according to a plaque on the plinth.

"Rebuilding the Lamassu means it can symbolically continue as guardian of a city's past, present and future," the plaque says.

It quotes an inscription on the Lamassu: "Sennacherib, king of the world, king of Assyria, had the inner and outer wall of Nineveh built anew and raised as high as mountains."

We think of art, especially ancient art, as a relatively stable presence in our culture, something more or less permanent and treasured by all of us. Sadly, that's not the case. The loss of the Lamassu (and other art losses, like all the paintings stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990, or those stolen from the Kunsthal in Rotterdam in 2012) reminds us that even famous artworks are vulnerable. In fact, civilizations themselves, like that of the ancient Assyrians, are transient.


  1. I love this Steve especially the close up.

  2. What a statement by Michael Rakowitz. This isn't self-indulgent, introspective creation - it is art of the contemporary world made with passion to arrest the attention of others and encourage change. Thank you for sharing.

  3. I agree with what Mr. P. said.
    Absolutely stunning in intent and in being.
    Think of all the art lost to the ages. And the libraries! I suppose all things must pass. But how tragic.

  4. everything is transient. I think about all the architectural art glass I created over the course of my career and it is wonderful to think that some of it will endure for hundreds of years but the reality of it is that in our disposable culture, even art is disposable. I imagine most of it will end up in a landfill. still it seems unconscionable to purposely destroy sculpture that has endured for so long and represents a people and culture that no longer exist. but that's religious fanaticism for you.

  5. Wow, I love this! I also thank you for sharing. Your photos are beautiful. I Googled him to see if I could see more of his work. He had a show over the summer at Whitechapel Gallery that looked fascinating. His work is beautiful and so meaningful.

  6. I love this artwork and the story behind the creation of it. So beautiful. The close up is grand.

  7. That's a pretty amazing piece of art. I love that it's repurposing "trash" to make something beautiful. I'm always intrigued by art that is made up of other things - like this & pictures composed of thousands of other pictures. It takes a lot of vision to put those things together!

  8. This artwork is stunning! And the history is so interesting. Thank you for sharing this. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

  9. This is beautiful art. I find it so sad that so much is destroyed thru war and hate. Hearing the history it reminds me of Joan Baez singing The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, where it says Just Take What You Need And Leave The Rest, But They Should Have Never Taken The Very Best...
    All the gorgeous art and history that is destroyed. There should be some kind of Rule that would say... Leave that for the survivors...
    But that is not the way that it is. War destroys everything in it's path.

    Thank you for sharing. I love the fact that he used juice cans... so much talent there... Have a fantastic day.

  10. Astonishing piece! WOW! Thank you for very close look to see how it is put together! Gorgeous