Final straw for Jing'an's 'Urban Fox'


A visitor takes photos of the "Urban Fox" before it is pulled down yesterday in Jing'an Sculpture Park.

The city’s “Urban Fox” has finally said goodbye after a four-year residency in Jing’an Sculpture Park. The metal-and-straw creation, 7 meters high and 10 meters long, was pulled down yesterday morning.

Workers dismantled the fox and packed its head, body and tail in three containers. They were sent to a workshop in Fengxian District to be further taken apart.

“We will remove the straw covering the metal structure in the workshop as to avoid straw pieces flying over the park and affecting visitors,” said demolition team head Mao Wenfeng.

He added: “Also, the sun-scorched and rain-drenched installation has been slightly rotting inside. It is bad for the grass if we just leave the rotten straw on the ground.”

“The metal structure will remain in case the sculptor wants to build a new fox in the future,” said Li Ying of the Purple Roof Gallery. It had introduced the sculpture to the park.

Nearby resident Yu Ming said she often passed the giant fox and was taken aback when she heard it was being taken down. She used her mobile phone to record the scene.

“I want to record a last image of the fox, and I can still see it from time to time if I miss it,” Yu said.

Park security guard Shi Zhongshan gets a colleague to take a photo of him with the fox before it goes.

Park security guard Shi Zhongshan got a colleague to take a photo of him with the fox before it went.

“We all welcomed it when it arrived four years ago. It was so cute and for years it seemed to become part of us. Many visitors came to ask us to take photos of them and the fox. Today, it was finally my turn, but I really felt bad,” he said.

In 2014, the installation became the star attraction at the biennale sculpture exhibition held at the sculpture park.

Sculptor Alex Rinsler, from Manchester in the UK, said he wanted to reveal the relationship between humans and animals in urban areas.

According to one news report, there are around 150,000 foxes living in cities in the UK.

In an interview with Shanghai Television Station, Rinser said: “In the last 60 years, foxes have moved into our cities, pretty much in the UK. We see them everywhere. They really represented the story of what it means to live in London in particular.”

He added: “Foxes are moving in cities but at the same time they live under very difficult pressures, which is also a symbol of how we live now in a city. So, for me, the fox really represents the good things and bad things about living in a 21st-century city.”

The original version of the cunning metal-and-straw creation

Winged additions

The installation should have been pulled down after the exhibition ended, but it escaped demolition when birds were found to be nesting in it.

In 2016, Rinsler returned to Shanghai to repair the installation. In two months, he and his team tore it apart, cleaned it and reassembled it in a slightly different way.

They attached more than 150 wooden birdhouses to its body to hold nests removed from inside the structure. Cameras were installed to record the bird life.

Originally, the fox had worn a somewhat melancholy expression, but the new one had eyes that sparkled.

Shanghai Natural History Museum, which is also in the park, would play the videos of birds hatching their eggs and raising their young on a big screen on the museum’s facade. However, almost none of the “original inhabitants” returned.

According to the Jing’an greenery authority, birds like to build nests on their own and didn’t like the wooden nests. They found new homes in nearby trees and bushes.

The Purple Roof Gallery said an upside-down truck sculpture would take the place of the fox in September for this year’s sculpture exhibition.

Source: SHINE

Editor: Xu Qing

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