Tasting the Statue

A sculpture on Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth made from date syrup tins has inspired a new cookbook by artist Michael Rakowitz

The invisible enemy should not exist, Michael Rakowitz, 2018. Fourth Plinth, Trafalgar Square. Image courtesy GLA

Michael Rakowitz’s statue, The invisible enemy should not exist, is made from over 10,000 tins of date syrup and is the latest commission to occupy the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. Now celebrated as one of the most famous public art commissions in the world, the idea began in 1994 when Prue Leith (then chair of the Royal Society of Arts) launched a campaign for a public statue on the Fourth Plinth.

Rakowitz has gathered together friends and chefs from around the world in his new cookbook, A House With a Date Palm Will Never Starve, inspired by cooking with date syrup. Iraqi-American Rakowitz sees the book as a way to taste the sculpture, whose empty tins are replenished with the syrup in its pages. 

The launch of the cookbook coincides with a major exhibition of artworks by Rakowitz at
The Whitechapel Gallery from 4 June – 25 August. The artist’s debut survey premieres his most important projects from two decades, with eight multifaceted installations drawing on architecture, cultural artefacts and cuisine. Rakowitz is also showing culinary-inspired work at FOOD: Bigger than the Plate at the V&A until 20 October.

Says Michael Rakowitz: “And so I hope that what this sculpture began can be sustained. A sculpture that became a cookbook. A cookbook that will create a wider appreciation for date syrup. A wider appreciation for date syrup that will, inshallah, help replant those disappeared date palms in Iraq. Here’s to a sweeter future.”

Published by Art/Books in association with Plinth, and featuring an introductory essay by Claudia Roden, the cookbook launch will be accompanied by a series of talks, events and supper clubs throughout summer 2019, offering both the media and wider public the chance to sample the book’s recipes and acquaint themselves with date syrup.

Naila Scargill
About Naila Scargill 248 Articles
Naila Scargill is the publisher and editor of horror journal Exquisite Terror. Holding a broad editorial background, she has worked with an eclectic variety of content, ranging from film and the counterculture, to political news and finance.

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