Copenhagen's Famous Little Mermaid Statue Was Vandalized...Again
The statue honoring author Hans Christian Andersen was found covered in red paint, and was likely vandalized in an act of protest.
Copenhagen's Little Mermaid statue is no stranger to bouts of vandalism. Once, it was toppled off its perch by explosives. On another occasion (make that two, actually) it was decapitated. The latest incident to befall the ill-fated bronze sculpture? On Tuesday, it was discovered painted a lurid red by a group of anti-whaling activists.
As Reuters reports, the famous statue was likely vandalized in an act of protest, and the phrase “ Danmark [sic] defend the whales of the Faroe Islands" was found written in English on the ground below it. The Faroe Islands, a self-governing part of Denmark that lies between Iceland and Norway, is home to a local—and increasingly controversial—whaling tradition, which can be traced back hundreds of years. While no group has claimed responsibility, Copenhagen police have confirmed that they are investigating the incident, according to the Telegraph.“National treasures like this should be left well alone. Regardless of whether it’s vandalism or politically motivated, this is well out of line,” Carl Christian Ebbesen, head of Copenhagen Municipality’s culture and leisure committee, told Danish broadcaster DR, the paper reports. “I am not going to get involved in what political opinions people have. Vandalizing the Little Mermaid is as stupid as you can possibly get.” It’s safe to assume that the statue is probably one of the world’s most vandalized, with such acts frequently being used to make a political statement. One recent defacing is thought to be connected to International Women’s Day, while in 2007 it was clothed in a burqa and headscarf. Back in 1984, the entire right arm was removed.
Located in Copenhagen’s harbor along the Langelinie promenade, the Little Mermaid statue has long been a popular tourist attraction. Built in 1913, it was created by Danish sculptor Edvard Eriksen to honor the author Hans Christian Andersen, known for his fairy tales and children’s stories like The Little Mermaid and Thumbelina (a statue of the writer also resides in New York’s Central Park). The Little Mermaid isn’t alone when it comes to a statue being damaged or destroyed, either—although these days, it’s usually at the hands of a selfie-taking visitor: Last November, a Brazilian tourist destroyed an 18th-century sculpture of Saint Michael in Lisbon, and a work by the artist Yayoi Kusama was severely damaged during a suspected photo-op at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. last March.
According to authorities in Copenhagen, a clean-up process is well-under way to return the Little Mermaid to its full, bronze glory, although it’s likely only a matter of time until vandals strike again. And given the variety of past efforts, here’s to guessing what happens next time.