Fourth Plinth sculpture shortlist includes a sundae and a recreation of a relic destroyed by Isis

19 January 2017
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2 minute read

Heather Phillipson: The End. Photo: James O’Jenkins

The five shortlisted sculptures for the next two Fourth Plinth sculptures in London’s Trafalgar Square have been revealed, and include a whipped cream sundae and a recreation of a relic destroyed by Isis in 2015.

Proposals by Damián Ortega, Heather Phillipson, Huma Bhabha, Michael Rakowitz and Raqs Media Collective were revealed at The National Gallery for the first time this morning. Two will be commissioned and installed on the plinth in 2018 and 2020.

The End by British artist Heather Phillipson depicts a bulbous dollop of whipped cream complete with cherry and a huge fly, topped with a drone that films passers-by and displays them on an attached screen. The sculpture aims to address the context of Trafalgar Square and the scenes of congregation it witnesses, from commemorations to mass protest, as well as themes of surveillance and broadcast.

The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist by American artist Michael Rakowitz is a recreation of Lamassu, an ancient sculpture of a deity that was destroyed by Isis in 2015.

Highway by Mexican artist Damián Ortega is a precarious tower of found objects including a truck, scaffolding and a ladder. It uses ordinary, familiar objects in a new way, drawing on ideas of fragility and imbalance.

The Emperor’s Old Clothes by Indian art trio Raqs Media Collective shows a semi-transparent cloak, with the wearer seemingly removed to leave it floating. It aims to comment on the other plinths around the square and how they celebrate men “who wielded power”.

Untitled by Pakistan-born, New York-based artist Huma Bhabha is made from brown cork and white polystyrene, purposely “humble” materials hand-carved to reference African art and Picasso. The pose and scale of the sculpture aims to “reflect a modern comic sci-fi movie” with the London skyline as its backdrop.

Justine Simons, London’s deputy mayor for culture and creative industries, said at the launch that “this is the most international group of artists we’ve ever had”, with the artists “exploring a huge variety of subjects, from relics to surveillance”.

The commission “celebrates contemporary art in the heart of a Grade 1 listed public square,” she continued, and has “delighted and divided” public opinion since it was initiated in 1998. “Now it feels like part of London’s story. It’s admired internationally, so much so that New York City has just announced it will install a plinth on the High Line.

She added: “I love the way [the Fourth Plinth] turns everyone into an art critic.”

The final two artworks will be announced in March, and will follow David Shrigley’s Really Good sculpture after its tenure until March 2018.


Damián Ortega: Highway. Photo: James O’Jenkins


Huma Bhabha: Untitled. Photo: James O’Jenkins


Michael Rakowitz: The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist. Photo: James O’Jenkins


Raqs Media Collective: The Emperor’s Old Clothes. Photo: James O’Jenkins

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Jenny Brewer

Jenny joined the editorial team as It’s Nice That’s first news editor in April 2016. Having studied 3D Design, she has spent over a decade working in design journalism. Contact her with news stories relating to the creative industries on

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