The invisible enemy should not exist (Room N, Northwest Palace of Nimrud), 2018

Basel 2018
Barbara Wien
Reliefs from Middle Eastern packaging and newspapers, glue, cardboard, wood
Michael Rakowitz’s project unfolds as an intricate narrative about the artifacts stolen from the National Museum of Iraq, Baghdad, in the aftermath of the US invasion in 2003 and the continued destruction of Mesopotamian cultural heritage by groups like ISIS. The ongoing series of sculptures are an attempt to reconstruct the thousands of looted and destroyed artifacts. The objects are created with a team of assistants using the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute’s database and information from Interpol’s website. Since 2007, more than 700 artifacts have been reconstructed. Rakowitz exhibits a life-size reconstruction of mural reliefs formerly located at the Northwest Palace of Nimrud, destroyed by ISIS in 2015. The color scheme of the reconstructed reliefs follows what archaeologists believe was originally painted on the limestone when the panels were carved in the 9th century BC. The reconstructions are made from Arabic newspapers and the packaging of Middle Eastern foodstuffs: products produced in northern Iraq, like date cookies and date syrup. The salvage of these materials makes present the human, economic, and ecological disasters caused by the Iraq War and its aftermath.