the budget dragon
With an eye to the Olympics, Beijing is taking down its ugly sculptures.
A fat mermaid and timid-looking tigers are among more than 100 ugly sculptures which are being pulled down in a bid to beautify Beijing. A study carried out by the authorities found that up to 40% of sculptures in the Chinese capital are substandard. Many were produced by amateurs in the early 1980s.
The Beijing Youth Daily reports that some will be replaced by pieces done by professional sculptors. A professor at the Central Academy of Fine Arts told the paper that some sculptures of humans found in the streets were grossly disproportional, while a large number of animal sculptures looked dull and rigid. In one example, the head and legs of a boy appeared too large for the body, while in another, a gold-coated ox looked more like a lamb.
Public pressure has since prompted the removal of at least one street sculpture this year. The piece, called The Fat Mermaid, was placed on Jingsong Street during an upgrading exercise. It was immediately criticised for being disproportionate, plump and ugly. The local authorities agreed to remove it in June.
Salman Rushdie is looking kind of old and gaunt these days, and they say his new book is a mixed bag. I do like his admonition: "Beware the writer who sets himself or herself up as the voice of a nation. This includes nations of race, gender, sexual orientation, elective affinity. The New Behalfism demands uplift, accentuates the positive, offers stirring moral instruction. It abhors the tragic sense of life. Seeing literature as inescapably political, it substitutes political values for literary ones. It is the murderer of thought."