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Chinese 'mermaid' to swap with Danish statue

A CHINESE-style nymph will sit on the edge of Copenhagen's harbor while Denmark's iconic "Little Mermaid" makes a voyage across the seas and charms visitors at the Shanghai 2010 World Expo.

Denmark is inviting Chinese sculptors to produce a "Chinese interpretation of the Little Mermaid," John Hansen, project director for Denmark's Expo Secretariat, told a press conference in Shanghai yesterday.

So far four designs from artists across China have been submitted. They are markedly different in size and style from the original statue, but all are satisfactory, Hansen said.

"The final problem for us might be that we get too many attractive proposals," he said.

Danish Crown Prince Frederick will visit Shanghai to announce the final design in May.

About 60 percent of Copenhagen's residents support the plan to create a substitute for the statue, while some newspapers satirized the idea by drawing a politician on the rock where the mermaid sits, Hansen told Shanghai Daily.

The country will transfer the famed statue to Shanghai next April. It will be placed at the center of a water pool inside Denmark's pavilion at the Expo, which opens on May 1 next year and runs for 184 days.

The City Council of Copenhagen approved the Little Mermaid's temporary stay in the Denmark Pavilion last Thursday, and the "substitute plan" was a part of the proposal.

A tribute to famous Danish fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen, the Little Mermaid has been sitting on the edge of Copenhagen's harbor since 1913 and draws at least 1 million visitors every year.

In Andersen's tale, the mermaid is a sea king's daughter who falls in love with a prince and must wait 300 years to become human. The 1.65-meter statue was created by Danish sculptor Edvard Eriksen.

According to Hansen, Denmark will build a 3,000-square-meter pavilion for the Shanghai Expo and has budgeted US$27.09 million for the event. The country expects around 3 million people to visit its pavilion.

The number of visitors to the Copenhagen site may still run high even while the statue is in Shanghai, because it will be the only chance for tourists to see the Chinese version, Hansen said.

Also on the aesthetic front, France has decided to present an art feast called "The Sensual City" in its pavilion.

On the list are "The Angelus" by French painter Jean-Francois Millet, "The Balcony" by Edouard Manet, "Woman with Coffee Pot" by Paul Cezanne and "The Age of Bronze," a sculpture created by Auguste Rodin, according to France's Expo Website.

Another heavyweight is "The Dance Hall in Arles" by Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh, who traveled to Arles, a small town in the south of France, for inspiration. Pierre Bonnard's "The Loge" and Paul Gauguin's "The Meal" will also be on display.

Movie buffs will find French actor Alain Delon, who serves as France's Expo ambassador, at the pavilion.


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