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New fourth plinth shortlist unveiled

Contenders given a month to produce models as they vie to occupy high-profile Trafalgar Square spot in 2012

The fleet of artists vying to replace Yinka Shonibare's giant ship in a bottle on Trafalgar Square's fourth plinth and have their work showcased during the 2012 London Olympics have been announced.

The inspirations for the rival works, one of which will become the country's most prominent contemporary art exhibit throughout the games, will remain secret for another few weeks, though the six proposers – eight artists in all – have been named. They now have a month to produce models, which will be exhibited in August.

The temporary installations on the plinth have become a feature of the capital's cultural life, most famously last summer, when Antony Gormley's One & Other gave 2,400 flesh and blood exhibitionists their chance to occupy the space for an hour each.

"It's that time again," said London's mayor, Boris Johnson, "when the art world braces itself for a spurt of bold ideas for what is surely the premier public art spot in Britain. This is the chance for today's most exciting artists to create something in one of the most historic and traditional settings imaginable. We can only guess what they will come up with, but I have no doubt it will get everyone talking."

Ekow Eshun, director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts, who chairs the judging panel, said the fourth plinth installations had established an international reputation. "The commissioning group is excited by this strong shortlist, which represents leading artists from different nations."

The towering Victorian granite plinth was intended, like its neighbours, to carry a solemn bronze general, but was never filled: modern proposals to fill it permanently have ranged from Bomber Harris to the Queen Mother to the present Queen on horseback.

The shortlisted artists are a strikingly cosmopolitan bunch, either born in, or now working in, the US, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Berlin, Dusseldorf, and Guyana. Many are better known for video and sound pieces than large public sculptures.

The artists are: Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla, born respectively in the US and Cuba and now based in Puerto Rico, who mix sculpture, sound, video and performance; Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, based in London and Berlin, where their memorial to gay victims of the Nazi regime was unveiled in 2008; Katharina Fritsch, a sculptor born in Germany and mainly working in Dusseldorf, who has represented Germany at the Venice Biennale; Brian Griffiths, born in Stratford upon Avon and now a lecturer at the Royal Academy schools, who is best known for giant sculptures including ships and chariots made from second-hand furniture; Hew Locke, born in Edinburgh but brought up in Guyana, who makes brilliantly coloured but slightly sinister pieces out of scrap material including sequins and plastic flowers; and Mariele Neudecker, born in Germany but working in Bristol, who is renowned for landscapes in glass cases, including two commmissioned by the Met Office of mountains cloaked in fog and snow.

Though the final decision will be taken by the judging panel, the public is also invited to comment and the winner will be announced early next year. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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