A jewellery tree made of household objects, casts of the faces of 850 transgender people and a silo filled with plants are three of the proposals put forward for Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth.
A giant rocket, a 1914 photograph reimagined and a figure based on German folklore have also made the shortlist.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said it was the "most international line-up" of artists.
The plinth was built in 1841 but remained empty because of a lack of funds.
A rolling commission of artworks have been displayed on the Fourth Plinth since 1998.
Six works by artists including Malawi-born Samson Kambalu and Germany-based Paloma Varga Weisz have gone on display at the National Gallery, which reopened last week, and online.
The current artwork is Heather Phillipson's sculpture, titled THE END, which will be on display until September 2022.
Two designs, which will go on display in 2022 and 2024 respectively, will be chosen by the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group in late June.
The shortlisted works of art:
Dr Gabriele Finaldi, director of the National Gallery, said: "I think it is important that we find ways to encourage the public to look at and become interested in art, whether it's the great pictures in our museums or new art in public spaces, and I encourage the public to have their say on these inspiring proposals."
Justine Simons, deputy mayor for culture and the creative industries, said the Fourth Plinth Programme had become a "powerful symbol for Londoners and visitors to our city and is emulated worldwide".
"It brings great contemporary art to the heart of our city for free and encourages a lively conversation," Simons said.
"It casts new light on London's most historic square, helping our public landscape to reflect, represent and celebrate many more of our stories."
The Fourth Plinth was initiated in 1998 by the Royal Society of Art with Mark Wallinger's Ecce Homo.
In 1999, responsibility transferred to the mayor of London.