Act of colonial defiance to top Trafalgar Square's 'Fourth Plinth'

·2-min read

LONDON (Reuters) -Visitors to London's Trafalgar Square over the next few years will be transported to Malawi during the colonial period with one art work and shown impressions of trans people across the world in another.

On Monday, Samson Kambalu and Teresa Margolles were announced as the Fourth Plinth’s newly commissioned artists.

Kambalu impressed with a mock-up of a sculpture called "Antelope", which he told Reuters is based on a "photograph taken in 1914 of a Malawian pan-African Baptist preacher (John Chilembwe) ... next to his friend John Chorley, a British missionary".

What is significant, he says, is that both men are wearing hats: "It looks like an ordinary photograph but actually if you dig more you realise this is an act of defiance because in 1914 in Nyasaland, now Malawi, Africans were not allowed to wear hats in front of white people."

In the sculpture, Chilembwe is larger in scale than Chorley to emphasis that "this is Chilembwe's story", Kambalu said.

In contrast to Kambalu's sculpture, which will go on display next year, Margolles' piece is a collection of casts of the faces of 850 trans people from around the world.

According to a press release Margolles "works closely with this marginalised community that sometimes is unable to access social care".

Titled "850 Improntas", the work will be in place in 2024.

Known as The Mayor of London's Fourth Plinth Commission, the art space was created after 2003 when the Mayor took over ownership of Trafalgar Square.

Previously, the plinth in the northwest corner of the square in central London lay empty for more than 150 years after funds ran out to erect an equestrian statue as originally planned.

Heather Phillipson's 9-tonne sculpture of a giant swirl of whipped cream with a cherry on top, entitled "THE END", will stay in place until September 2022.

(Reporting by Sarah Mills; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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