Row over Little Mermaid move

COPENHAGEN. Plans to send Copenhagen’s iconic waterfront sculpture, The Little Mermaid, to China are causing a political row in Denmark. Edvard Eriksen’s sculpture, based on a Hans Christian Andersen story and one of Copenhagen’s principal tourist attractions, has been proposed as the centrepiece of the Danish Pavilion at Expo 2010 in Shanghai. The proposal comes from Copenhagen-based BIG architects who won the competition to design the pavilion.

Denmark’s right-wing, populist Dansk Folkeparti, which supports the governing two-party coalition, has opposed the plans, as have the heirs of the sculpture’s creator.

Karin Nødgaard, parliamentary cultural spokesperson for Dansk Folkeparti, told The Art Newspaper that she wants to start a parliamentary debate about the plan to move The Little Mermaid.

“If the sculpture [was] taken away for some time tourists coming to Copenhagen would be disappointed,” she said. “Businesses at Langelinie [the area where the statue is located] should be considered, too,” she added.

Erling Eriksen, grandson of sculptor Eriksen, has also indicated his family’s opposition to the scheme. However the family will not take legal action to stop the move as it is unlikely to breach the heirs’ copyright.

As a national symbol, The Little Mermaid has often been a rallying point for political demonstrations—its head has twice been stolen. In August Danish/Norwegian artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset set up a mirror in front of the mermaid, creating a work called When a Country Falls in Love With Itself. The piece referred to the increasingly powerful right-wing lobby in Danish politics. Expo 2010 will take place in Shanghai from May to October 2010.

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