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The Fourth Plinth
Photo: James O'Jenkins

Which of these artworks do you reckon should go on the Fourth Plinth?

There’s a shortlist of six and some are predictably oddball

By
Chris Waywell
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A huge silver rocket, some stacked planters and the faces of 850 trans people are among the artworks shortlisted to next be sited on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. Models of all the works are on display in the Annenberg Court in the National Gallery until July 4 and the public (that’s you and me) are invited to check them out and have their say about them online. Two works will then be selected, one installed in September 2022, when the current occupant of the plinth, Heather Phillipson’s ‘The End’, will reach its… end, and another that will be installed in 2024. It’s part of Sadiq’s Let’s Do London campaign

The six proposals are: 

‘The Jewellery Tree’ by Nicole Eisenman (France/USA) is a collection of household objects – plus a few topical references, such as Lord Nelson’s medals – on a monumental scale. Confusing and messy.

Fourth Plinth proposal by Samson Kambalu
Fourth Plinth proposal by Samson Kambalu | Photo by James O Jenkins

‘Antelope’ by Samson Kambalu (Malawi) is a sculptural restaging of an iconic 1914 photograph of Baptist preacher and pan-Africanist John Chilembwe and European missionary John Chorley. Chilembwe was killed the following year and his church destroyed. Powerful. Daring choice to have a piece of figurative sculpture on the plinth.

Fourth Plinth proposal by Goshka Macuga
Fourth Plinth proposal by Goshka Macuga | Photo by James O Jenkins

‘GONOGO’ by Goshka Macuga (Poland/UK) is a giant silver rocket encouraging audiences to look beyond earth to outer space. Simple and striking, but does anyone still care about space (apart from Elon Musk)?

‘On Hunger and Farming in the Skies of the Past 1957-1966’ by Ibrahim Mahama (Ghana) is a recreation an unfinished grain silo built by Eastern European architects in Ghana in the early 1960s. It’s reimagined as a towering structure filled with living plants. Great title! Intriguing postcolonial subtext. Houseplants: yes.

‘Improntas’ (‘Imprint’) by Teresa Margolles (Mexico) is made up of casts of the faces of 850 trans people, most of them sex workers, arranged around the plinth in the form of a ‘tzompantli’, a skull rack from Mesoamerica. Another strong work. Ironically slightly faceless.

Fourth Plinth proposal by Paloma Varga Weisz
Fourth Plinth proposal by Paloma Varga Weisz. Photo by James O Jenkins

‘Bumpman for Trafalgar Square’ by Paloma Varga Weisz (Germany) is a figure inspired by the spirit of German folklore. The bumpman is a lonely figure sitting on a fallen tree, his body covered in ‘undulating fleshy growths’. Leftfield choice this one, but who hasn’t felt a bit like this in the last year? Go, bumpman!

See the works online at www.london.gov.uk/fourthplinth. There is also an immersive online exploration of the Fourth Plinth programme here. Models of all the artworks are on display in the Annenberg Court of the National Gallery until Jul 4. Free with booked entry.

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