Fourth plinth shortlist includes huge rocket and casts of 850 trans women

Casts of the faces of 850 transgender women, abandoned concrete grain silos and an enormous space rocket are among artists’ ideas for the next fourth plinth commission in Trafalgar Square.

Organisers of the popular contemporary art installation revealed six options on Monday, which also include a monumental jewellery tree, a curiously bumpy figure inspired by 16th-century German folklore and a work that shines light on the story of John Chilembwe, a Baptist pastor who led a 1915 uprising against colonial rule in what is now Malawi.

Models of the proposals have gone on display at the National Gallery en aanlyn, with the public encouraged to share their views.

Two winning ideas will be chosen and unveiled in 2022 en 2024. They follow the current incumbent, Heather Phillipson’s The End – a huge swirl of cream with a cherry, fly and drone on top.

Die Mexican artist Teresa Margolles is proposing a work that shines light on the number of murders of trans women across the world.

Her idea is that plaster casts of the faces of trans women, most of them sex workers, would be attached to a structure that resembles a Tzompantli – a wooden rack used in Mesoamerican civilisations for the display of human skulls to honour the gods.

Using the faces of living women, Margolles proposes making “a wall of resistance”. “I want these women to be visible," sy het gese.

Her hope is that most of the women depicted will live in the UK and will recognise their faces. Over time, die Londen weather will cause the faces to deteriorate and fade away, leaving behind “a kind of anti-monument”, Margolles said.

Ibrahim Mahama’s proposal is based on grain silos constructed by eastern European architects in Ghana during the early 1960s. They were abandoned after the country’s first leader, Kwame Nkrumah, was overthrown by the military in 1966. The brutalist concrete silos on his fourth plinth scheme are inspired by a structure in his home town of Tamale.

Nicole Eisenman, a Brooklyn-based artist, wants to create a monumental version of a jewellery tree that might be on a dressing table with mementoes and trinkets hanging off it. Her tree would be a mix of the meaningful and superfluous: Lord Nelson’s medals, the pipes and pokers of Bloody Sunday protesters, a plastic coffee lid and a crushed beer can.

Two of the shortlisted artists are based in the UK. One of those is Polish artist Goshka Macuga, who is proposing a giant rocket that will encourage people to look up towards outer space.

Samson Kambalu was born in Malawi and lives and works in Oxford, where he is an associate professor of fine art. He is proposing a restaging of a photograph from 1914 showing Chilembwe and his friend, the British missionary John Chorley.

The work would shine light on the Baptist pastor, who believed in a unified African nation. The photograph was taken at the church Chilembwe constructed and opened in 1914. He has his hat on, defying the colonial rule that forbade Africans from wearing hats in front of white people. A year later he was killed while leading an uprising against colonial rule.

The sixth proposal is from the German artist Paloma Varga Weisz, whose idea is for a sculpture of a figure called Bumpman. She describes him as a “quiet antihero” with bumps on his body that are a manifestation of human insecurities.

The two winning artists will be chosen by a panel that includes the artist Jeremy Deller, the broadcaster Jon Snow and Iwona Blazwick, the director of the Whitechapel gallery. It is chaired by the writer and broadcaster Ekow Eshun, who praised the creative ambition of the artists.

“Debate is at the heart of the programme and the commissioning group look forward to hearing the public’s thoughts on the proposals," hy het gesê.

The models are on display at the National Gallery tot 4 Julie.

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