The rebellious Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has been grabbing headlines over his ongoing dispute with the Chinese government, but his latest flood of attention wasn't even his fault.
Ai unknowingly caused an uproar in the small German town of Bad Ems, after Chinese artist He Xiangyu created a life-like sculpture of Ai lying face down at the "carte blanche: Andreas Schmid an He Xiangyu" exhibition. The sculpture, which lies next to a glass window in plain view, shocked passerby into a panic. Numerous residents of the quaint German town have mistaken the sculpture as a real lifeless body, prompting them to alert the authorities.
"Several people had already called within days of the exhibition going up," said Peter Steger of the local police to Reuters . The piece was apparently quite realistic, as sculptor He Xiangyu used real hair, knotted and fused to the fiberglass body, to create a figure that was easily mistakable for the real thing. The sculptor said that the purpose of the piece was to praise Ai's criticism of corruption and censorship despite continuous threats of imprisonment and heavy taxes from the Chinese Government.
Earlier this year, Ai was detained by for 81 days without explicit reason, earning China criticism from other governments and human rights groups. More recently, China has asked Ai to pay 15 million yuan ($2.4 million) in back taxes apparently from the design company Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd., in which Ai is a central figure.