Michael Rakowitz and Heather Phillipson were today announced as the two artists who have won the next commissions for the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. The Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square committee has announced the two sculptures for the 12th and 13th works which will appear in the square since the commissioning programme began in 1998. The Fourth Plinth is the smallest but most prominent sculpture park in the world. Funded by the Mayor of London with support from Arts Council England, the programme invites world-class artists to make astonishing new works for Trafalgar Square. An established icon for London, it brings out the art critic in everyone.
I wish to congratulate Michael Rakowitz and Heather Phillipson on winning the commission – Ekow Eshun
The designs will be unveiled in 2018 and 2020 respectively, and follow on from the current sculpture Really Good by David Shrigley, a 7m high thumbs up, which will stay on the plinth until March 2018. They were chosen from a shortlist which included Huma Bhabha, Damián Ortega and Raqs Media Collective to win the commissions.
The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist is a project begun by Michael Rakowitz in 2006 that attempts to recreate over 7,000 archaeological artefacts looted from the Iraq Museum during the war or destroyed in its aftermath. For the Fourth Plinth Rakowitz will recreate the Lamassu, a winged bull and protective deity that stood at the entrance to Nergal Gate of Nineveh from c 700 B.C. In 2015 it was destroyed by ISIS along with other artefacts in Mosul Museum. The Lamassu will be made of empty Iraqi date syrup cans, representative of a once-renowned industry decimated by the Iraq Wars.
THE END by Heather Phillipson is a whirl of cream topped with a cherry and parasites. The work explores the extremes of shared experience, from commemorations and celebrations to mass protests, all while being observed by a drone’s camera. THE END represents exuberance and unease. Topped with a giant, unstable load, the plinth becomes a monument to hubris and impending collapse.
Justine Simons, Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries, said: “I am delighted to announce Michael Rakowitz and Heather Phillipson as the winning artists of the next two Fourth Plinth commissions. Over 9,000 people have had their say on what was an incredible shortlist, and it’s clear that these two hugely contrasting artworks stand out for their visual impact as well as their unique ability to make the viewer stop and think. The Fourth Plinth is the world’s most loved and talked about public art platform – it is pioneering, inventive and surprising, and above all, shows that London is open to creativity and ideas from around the world.”
Ekow Eshun, Chair of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group, said: “This year we received five extremely strong proposals for the next Fourth Plinth commissions, and choosing the winning commissions was particularly challenging. I wish to congratulate Michael Rakowitz and Heather Phillipson on winning the commission. Their works are wondrous, striking and deeply engaging. The new commissions will proudly continue the legacy of the Fourth Plinth in putting world-class contemporary sculpture at the heart of London.”