What’s happened to the Little Mermaid?

Things to Do, What's New — By Jane Graham on April 6, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Tourists to Copenhagen over the coming season may be in for a shock when they make the familiar trek along the waterfront to Langelinie, hoping to snap some shots of themselves next to the city’s best known landmark, the bronze statue of Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid.

She’s not there! Copenhagen’s biggest tourist attraction has vanished!

Don’t worry, she’s not been kidnapped. Though the Little Mermaid has had to put up with numerous acts of vandalism and defacement over the years, this time, her disappearance is official: she’s gone to China, to take her place at Shanghai’s World Expo – along with a little water from Copenhagen Harbor – to promote Denmark as an international tourist destination.

In a humble ceremony on the afternoon of Thursday, 25th March, a crowd of about 300 turned out to bid farewell to The Little Mermaid as she was lifted from her rock by a crane, waved onwards by a group of children from a local kindergarten.

Filling her spot on the waterfront won’t be easy, but Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has taken up the challenge. Regarded as the ‘Andy Warhol’ of China,  Weiwei was artistic consultant to the building of Beijing’s Olympic Stadium, and is one of the country’s top artists today. For the next ten months, his hi-tech video installation will be standing on Copenhagen’s waterfront, transmitting surveillance camera pictures of the Little Mermaid in Shanghai live to Langelinine.

Also in the area is the ‘Genetically Manipulated Mermaid’ by Bjørn Nørgaard, a popular though non-traditional artist who has made work for Denmark’s Royal family. This remodelling of the original statue can be found a couple of hundred metres away in a new square that surrounds the old harbor warehouses known as Dahlerups Pakhus. Built in 2006, it’s part of a group work, ‘The Genetically Modified Paradise.’

Traditionalists can relax knowing that an original copy of the Little Mermaid statue will be on display in Tivoli Gardens throughout the period when she’s in China. The bronze replica has been produced by the family of Edvard Eriksen, who made the original copy, and will be sailing into Tivoli’s boating lake in a grand press ceremony on 9 April at 1.30pm.

And don’t worry: The Little Mermaid will be returning in November.

Photo of The Little Mermaid courtesy of Bjarke Ørsted.

Tags: Ai Weiwei, Bjørn Nørgaard, Shanghai Expo 2010, The Little Mermaid

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