Multidisciplinary artist Batist Vermeulen
Sculpture by Batist Vermeulen in Antwerp, Belgium.
There is a very sensitive political story behind this sculpture.
The story of Nello and Patrasch is a really famous ‘fairy-tale’ in Japan, the book is sold more there than in Belgium. There was an original small statue of a dog placed on the square by the Antwerp city council because a lot of Japanese came to the church and were weeping, until city guides found out about the story and then placed the statue.
Fast forward a couple years later and they want to redo the square. Now for some reason, the CHINESE government says they will pay for it, and in the meantime, make the Nello and Patrasch statue more beautifully integrated with the environment. Sounds like a nice offering, but unfortunately Chinese/Japanese relations are not very good and now no Japanese tourists visit the place anymore because they are so offended the Chinese took ‘their’ story/culture and try to appropriate it to ‘Chinese’ culture.
So next time you hear about cultural appropriation, think about Nello and Patrasch.