‘Super’ statue of limitations

Art causes controversy at Beijing fest

A sculpture of two stars from Chinese TV talent skein “Super Girl,” crafted in the stirring style of Communist revolutionary monuments, is causing a flap at a Beijing art festival.

The 12-foot statue features Li Yuchun and Zhou Bichang, 2005 champion and runner-up, respectively, of the hugely popular “Super Girl,” which is the Chinese ripoff of the “American Idol” format, and sports the the less snappy title “Mongolian Cow Yogurt Super Girl Contest.”

The sculpture, by Sun Zhenghua and Dai Yun, features the two girls reaching into the air, each with one foot forward, a classic pose in the Socialist Realist monuments used to commemorate revolutionary heroes of the Long March and other Communist highlights. It is on show at the Songzhuang Art Festival in Beijing.

Comments on Chinese Web sites say the sculpture is too iconoclastic and such monuments are for the country’s heroes and martyrs, whose deeds deserved respect.

“It’s not for young pop stars,” said the Refuge Web site, although some bloggers did suggest the sculpture might have been a satire on the “Super Girl” frenzy.

It’s hard to overstate the popularity of satcaster Hunan’s “Super Girl” in China — up to 400 million Chinese viewers tuned in for last year’s “Super Girl” final.

Producers were told to tone down the show for this season, after older Chinese and some Communist Party officials criticized it as vulgar.

Sun, also dean of the Shenzhen Sculpture Institution in southern China, insisted that sculpture did not have to represent revolutionary martyrs but should reflect modern society.

“Making a monument is to reflect a new cultural trend in society and to record it,” he said.

The Super Girls are not happy about the piece; Li’s agent said her company was considering legal action for the use of her image.

Authorities were alarmed that the public were invited to vote for 2005 winners by mobile phone message as it smacked of democracy, which is forbidden in China.

This year’s “Super Girl” was won by Shang Wenjie, a 24-year-old from Shanghai, securing 2.7% of the viewing audience in 14 mainland cities, about half the audience for last year’s competition.

Viewership was also hit this season by competition from similar programs, including “My Hero” and “My Style, My Show” by Shanghai Oriental TV.

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