Casts of faces of 850 transgender people to be displayed on Fourth Plinth

·3-min read

Casts of the faces of 850 transgender people are to be displayed on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square.

Teresa Margolles’ artwork 850 Improntas has been chosen alongside a sculpture by fellow artist Samson Kambalu to be displayed on the plinth in central London, which is home to a rolling commission of public artworks.

They secured the commissions after seeing off competition from four other artists.

Paloma Varga Weisz, Ibrahim Mahama, Goshka Macuga and Nicole Eisenman had also been shortlisted for Fourth Plinth commissions.

Margolles’ work, which will be displayed in 2024, features casts of the faces of 850 transgender people from London and around the world.

Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth artwork
Antelope by Samson Kambalu (James O Jenkins/PA)

“She works closely with this marginalised community that sometimes is unable to access social care,” a statement from City Hall said.

“The ‘life masks’ will be arranged round the plinth in the form of a Tzompantli, a skull rack from Mesoamerican civilisations (an area covering Central Mexico to northern Costa Rica).”

Kambalu’s work, Antelope, depicts a 1914 photograph of Baptist preacher John Chilembwe and European missionary John Chorley.

Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth artwork
850 Improntas by Teresa Margolles (James O Jenkins/PA)

It will go on display from 2022.

“On the plinth, Chilembwe is larger than life while Chorley is lifesize; by increasing his scale, the artist elevates Chilembwe and his story, revealing the hidden narratives of under-represented peoples in the history of the British Empire in Africa and beyond,” City Hall said.

The artworks were selected by the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group after nearly 17,500 members of the public voted for their favourite designs.

Ekow Eshun, chairman of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group, said: “This year was an incredibly strong shortlist from six incredibly exciting contemporary artists.

Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth artwork
Artist Samson Kambalu with his plinth design (Victoria Jones/PA)

“I would like to congratulate Samson Kambalu and Teresa Margolles on winning the commissions, and to thank the public for all of their comments; we received more votes than ever before.

“I am thrilled at the outcome and very much looking forward to seeing the new works on the plinth.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “Our international shortlist showed again that the Fourth Plinth is one of the most important art commissions in the world, and I’d like to congratulate Samson Kambalu and Teresa Margolles as the next artists to have their work displayed.

“They will be shining a spotlight on important issues that our society continues to face, and I know they will spark debate and interest at home and abroad.”

New Trafalgar Square artwork
The End by Heather Phillipson (David Parry/PA)

The most recent Fourth Plinth commission was Heather Phillipson’s sculpture The End, which depicted a whirl of cream topped with parasites.

It will remain on show until September 2022.

Past commissions also include Marc Quinn’s sculpture of pregnant Alison Lapper, and Yinka Shonibare’s scaled-down replica of HMS Victory, contained in a glass bottle.

Antony Gormley created One & Other, in which people – including a man who posed naked – took it in turns to spend an hour on the plinth.