July 31, 2021

London’s Trafalgar Square will host statues denouncing colonialism and transphobia

Six contemporary artists were in the running to exhibit their work in Trafalgar Square, London. At the end of a vote open to all, an anti-colonialist statue and casts denouncing the transphobic murders were withheld, announced Monday, July 5, the town hall of the British capital. These creations will occupy, respectively from 2022 and 2024, one of the bases of the place, where artistic creations have followed one another since 1998.

The first winning work, named “Antelope”, was created by artist Samson Kambalu, originally from Malawi and based in Oxford. It reproduces in sculpture a photograph from 1914 of Baptist pastor John Chilembwe, at the origin of a failed uprising in 1915 against the British colonial regime in Malawi.

The protagonist wears a hat, which was forbidden for Africans, at the time, against whites. He is depicted larger than life, towering over missionary John Chorley, to highlight “The hidden stories of the under-represented in the history of the British Empire, in Africa and beyond”, explains the press release from the town hall.

The faces of 850 transgender people

In 2024, this sculpture will give way to “850 Improntas (850 Imprits)” by Teresa Margolles. The Mexican artist features casts of the faces of 850 transgender people from London and beyond, most of whom are sex workers.

The plaster masks will be arranged like a “Tzompantli”, a structure where the skulls of prisoners or victims of sacrifices in Mesoamerica were stacked. This work, which highlights the murder of these people, particularly in Latin America, emphasizes “The freedom and rights of all human beings”, underlined the artist in the press release.

The fourth plinth hosts until September 2022 the sculpture by British artist Heather Phillipson, entitled The End, which represents a giant cherry overhanging a mound of whipped cream, a fly and a drone, evoking “Arrogance and impending collapse”.

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The World with AFP