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Street kid sculpture

ELEVEN striking sculptures of "street children" are literally made from the streets. They are forged in copper with the shapes of real manhole covers, paving stones, direction markers and other fixtures.

The shapes in Jing'an Sculpture Park even show the grit and chewing gum on sidewalks, the real texture of the city. They are part of the Jing'an International Sculpture Exhibition underway through October 31.

All are made from rubbings taken on the spot from cities around the world by French sculptor Rachid Khimoune - local police don't always understand what he's up to in the streets of London, New York, Paris, Tokyo, Shanghai, and Moscow.

The rubbings, including words in different languages, are translated exactly into copper and painted. They're chunky, childlike and colorful.

They were created around 30 years ago and are the originals of the 21 pieces titled "Children of the World" donated by Khimoune to the World Expo.

It is the first time they have been exhibited outside Paris.

Instead of having a three-dimensional body, the 11 are quite flat and each part of the body is covered by something from a paving surface, whether tiles or utility covers, tread or textures, the fences around street trees.

Even the eyes come from a street fixture. The kids look like aliens.

"The kids are jumping out of the ordinary roads and streets," says Khimoune, "and before that, they were just part of the roads that we step on every day."

Khimoune became interested in roads and streets in different cites about 30 years ago. All the elements we commonly see have been collected and combined in his creations.

"Many people think that roads are always the same all over the world. But for me, every road has its own signature," says Khimoune.

"The tiles and paving stones, the fences of the street trees, and the manhole covers are all landmarks that make the city unique, just like a tattoo on the skin.

"Sometimes, it also tells the history of the city. But under the surface you will find common elements which are water, gas, sewer and electricity," he says.

All the problems of environment and urbanization.

Educating children about the environment is essential, the sculptor says, and his sculptures engage children's interest.

"There were always kids curious about what I was doing on the streets and I would always explain to them patiently," says Khimoune. "Some became very interested and wanted to help."

A lot of police thought he was crazy and a public nuisance.

Khimoune first visited China 25 years ago but didn't visit again until two years ago when he began preparations for his Expo sculptures.

"It seems that 1,000 years, not 25, has passed since my last visit," says Khimoune.

"Urbanization isn't bad but almost every city tends to make the same mistakes in the process.

"I hope cities that start later can avoid the mistakes made by others."


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