Work of art or just vul­gar­ity? Ei­ther way, sculp­ture is out

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By CHI­NADAILY in Shang­hai

A statue some vis­i­tors found in­de­cent at a fash­ion­themed area in Yangpu district was wrapped up on Wed­nes­day, ready to be dis­man­tled.

The con­tro­ver­sial fig­ure, placed out­side a choco­late fac­tory at Shang­hai Fash­ion Cen­ter, de­picts a stand­ing man uri­nat­ing.

The statue, de­signed by an Aus­trian artist, has cre­ated much con­tro­versy as some par­ents said it is in­ap­pro­pri­ate for chil­dren.

“Ev­ery­one knows” that peo­ple should not uri­nate in­dis­crim­i­nately, one ne­ti­zen wrote on so­cial me­dia, “but what mes­sage is this sculp­ture try­ing to de­liver to peo­ple, es­pe­cially chil­dren?”

Oth­ers said the con­tro­versy was a re­flec­tion of some peo­ple’s out­dated and con­ser­va­tive think­ing.

“Euro­pean artists in­clud­ing Rem­brandt Har­men­szoon van Rijn and Fran­cois Boucher have cre­ated fa­mous art­works de­pict­ing adults an­swer­ing na­ture’s call,” an­other ne­ti­zen wrote. “China should adopt an open mind to these art­works. Art should not be lim­ited to mu­se­ums.”

The­man­whoim­ported the art­work from Aus­tria years ago said lit­tle thought or study had been ex­pended over the mean­ing of the sculp­ture.

“The sculp­ture was equipped with an in­duc­tion gad­get and the fig­ure would start to uri­nate when vis­i­tors passed by,” said Fang Yimin, head of Zot­ter Choco­late Theater.

He said the man­agers of Shang­hai Fash­ion Cen­ter thought the sculp­ture was in­ter­est­ing when they paid a visit to Aus­tria, so they asked that it be shipped to Shang­hai. It paid 60,000 yuan ($8,700) in cus­toms du­ties.

A publicity of­fi­cial at Yangpu District Plan­ning and Land Au­thor­ity said on Wed­nes­day that the sculp­ture will be re­moved.

“We con­tacted Zot­ter Choco­late Theater and asked them to cover the sculp­ture,” he said. The au­thor­ity will take some time to study whether the piece is gen­uine artis­tic sculp­ture or just land­scape art­work.

If it is an art sculp­ture, it will be re­moved be­cause the mer­chant did not com­plete the re­quired pro­ce­dure to in­stall it; and if it is just vul­gar art­work, it will be re­moved be­cause it is not ap­pro­pri­ate to be shown in a pub­lic space, he said.

There are roughly 3,500 stat­ues in pub­lic spa­ces across Shang­hai, with the city keen to ap­peal to its international pop­u­la­tion.

In Novem­ber, a sculp­ture copied from Bri­tish artist Wendy Tay­lor’s work Time­piece — which is dis­played in Lon­don— was re­moved from Pudong New Area’s Dongchang River­front Gar­den.

He Qi con­trib­uted to this story.

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