On Wednesday morning, Rakowitz’s sculpture The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist
was unveiled on a vacant plinth in the square’s northwest corner, where it will remain until March 2020. It is the twelfth contemporary artwork to take up residence on the site, which, since 1999, has hosted one-off commissions from art-world giants including Marc Quinn
, Antony Gormley
, and Hans Haacke
. The artwork is a recreation of a statue of a lamassu, a mythical winged beast that, for nearly three millennia, stood at the gates of the ancient city of Nineveh, in present-day Iraq. In 2015, this astonishing artifact was very publicly dynamited by ISIS militants
, its destruction recorded for posterity in a widely circulated online video. While the original was heroically carved from Mesopotamian stone, The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist
is a work constituted of rather humbler materials: namely, colorfully designed cans of date palm syrup, a commodity once vital to the Iraqi economy.