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March 7, 2012

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Hotel covers up after nude statues stir public concern

A local five-star hotel has covered up a set of sculptures depicting a nude man and nude woman physically touching each other after the art stirred up great controversy.

The five white statues on the roof garden of the Jumeirah Himalayas Hotel Shanghai have stunned locals for their revealing content, and some criticized them as pornographic and harmful to social morality.

The hotel was surprised by the debate and pointed out that the sculptures are placed inside the hotel, not in a public place.

Opponents said it's easy for children to see the "obscene" sculptures as the hotel in the Pudong New Area is surrounded by high-rise apartment buildings.

The statues vividly depict a robust man and a full-figured woman kissing and hugging in different poses, with the man's hand even touching the woman's private parts.

The statues have been up for about half a year, but they didn't arouse much attention until recently, when web users uploaded the photos.

Most people are bewildered by the meaning of the statues and the hotel's intention in setting them up.

Liu Sisi, a local white-collar worker, ran into the sculptures when attending a business conference in the hotel. She said she was shocked by their erotic elements.

"Do they represent Nuwa and Fuxi (the earthly mother and heavenly father in Chinese mythology)?" she wondered.

Some made jokes about the hotel and said the statues make them suspect its business.

"I think the hotel is inviting men and women to check in together," said a netizen identified as "Shiertai."

Some supported the hotel and acclaimed the statues as excellent works of art.

"Venus should also wear clothes according to the narrow thoughts," said a netizen caller herself "Sophia."

Eve Zhou, public relations official with the hotel, told Shanghai Daily the hotel cares very much about its image and used cloth to wrap up the art work after the controversy erupted.

The statues are the private collection of the hotel owner, Dai Zhikang, who is abroad now.

They may be moved to the nearby Himalayas art gallery, but that needs to be discussed with Dai, who bought the sculptures from artist Geng Bo years ago.

Geng told the Youth Daily he intended to show the pursuit of beauty. In fact, he named the group "I Am Beauty."

"Nudity is not the highlight of the sculptures," he told the newspaper. "But if they are wearing clothes, they will be restricted. Without the clothes, they will be released from time and space and become eternal."

Zhu Guorong, an art critic, said similar art works have filled local galleries but that it challenges people when they appear in a more public space.


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