November 1, 2011 / 7:17 PM / in 6 years

Sculpture of Ai WeiWei "corpse" spooks German town

2 Min Read

Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei speaks to members of the media in the doorway of his studio after he was released on bail in Beijing June 23, 2011.David Gray

BERLIN (Reuters) - A mock corpse of Chinese dissident artist Ai WeiWei in an art gallery has caused commotion in a small German town, leading some panicked residents, mistaking the statue for a real body, to alert the police.

The life-size sculpture of a dead-looking Ai -- which lies face-down on the floor in front of large glass windows -- has shocked passersby on the street.

"Several people had already called within days of the exhibition going up," said Peter Steger from the police office in Bad Ems, the town where the work can be seen.

The Chinese artist He Xiangyu said he intended to praise Ai WeiWei's efforts to criticize corruption and censorship in the Chinese government despite the threat of imprisonment.

Ai was detained without charge for 81 days earlier this year, a move by China that drew heavy criticism from Western governments.

Ai said on Tuesday that China's communist government had ordered him to pay 15 million yuan ($2.4 million) in taxes and fines allegedly due from the company he works for.

He Xiangyu used actual human hair hand-knotted onto plastic and fiberglass to create the statue's realistic qualities. The statue in Bad Ems is one of three copies.

Reporting By Natalia Drozdiak, editing by Paul Casciato

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