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

By China Daily in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-04 07:47

A statue depicting an adult male urinating was on display in Shanghai.Photo Provided To China Daily

A statue some visitors found indecent at a fashion-themed 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Others said the controversy was a reflection of some people's outdated and conservative thinking.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."

The man who imported 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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