One of Copenhagen’s top attractions is The Little Mermaid statue at Langelinje pier. Hans Christian Anderson’s heroine has now occupied the rock for over 100 years, entertaining around one million visitors a year. She sits on the rock, gazing out across the harbour, just as beautiful as Disney’s interpretation. However, a much more interesting and relatively unknown statue is Bjørn Nørgaard’s Genetically Modified Little Mermaid. So once you have taken your obligatory snap, jostling for position among the other tourists, wander a little further up the harbour, away from the hubbub and examine the alternative sculpture.
Nestled amongst some converted warehouses in what appears to be a quiet residential area this statue is the ugly younger sister and yet a lot more captivating. The sculpture is part of a larger group the artist described as ‘a provocative and humorous look at postmodern society’. Interestingly the sculpture is set apart from the others in the collection, isolated on her own rock – paralleling her older sister. This Little Mermaid is misshapen, warped and grotesque. When you look at her you almost wince at her twisted limbs that more successfully represent the sacrifices the she had to make to become a human. Instead of looking out the sea like Edvard Eriksen’s statue does, Nørgaard’s is gazing mournfully down at her own misshaped body, perhaps considering the misguided choices she made for a man she didn’t even know.
Whatever conclusions you draw from the sculpture about the Genetically Modified Little Mermaid and what Nørgaard was trying to say about society it is definitely worth the extra 10 minute walk and you will almost certainly be the only visitor for this lonely mermaid.
Photo Credit: Emily Wilson