‘Creepy’ dolls scare expo visitors

By Chang Chuan-chia and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Thu, Dec 05, 2013 - Page 3

Visitors to the Taipei Expo Park’s Expo Dome have been surprised to discover something they say is highly incongruous with the dreamy theme of the 10-day show: poker-faced dolls meant to depict popular fairy-tale characters.

The “Flora Art Work Exhibition,” which opened on Friday last week, features installations based on 14 fairy tales by 20 floral and horticulture teams from seven countries.

It is one of the four main events of the first “Million Flowers Festival,” running from Nov. 1 through Mar. 31 next year.

Among the figurines that visitors have described as “creepy” is Dorothy from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Hansel and Gretel and Peter Pan’s Captain Hook.

A postgraduate student surnamed Wang (王) said stern and realistic figurines were a “bizarre choice” for the fairy-tale scenes at the exhibition.

A mother surnamed Cheng (鄭) who visited the exhibition with her children said the facial expressions of the figures looked “freakish,” adding that the designers should have put more thought into the overall aesthetic of the works.

Another mother surnamed Su (蘇) agreed, saying that she would not let her children be photographed next to such “weird puppets.”

Taipei Expo Foundation deputy director Chen Wen-shou (陳文鑠) said a lot of effort had gone into designing the exhibition and that it only decided to go with figurines that looked vastly different from the stereotypical images of the characters to avoid possible copyright infringement.

“After all, the highlight of the exhibition is the flowers, and the figurines only serve as a foil to them,” Chen said.

Sung Yi-ping (宋憶萍), director of the foundation’s marketing center, said it did not purchase the copyright to the characters because it wanted to leave as much revenue generated from the event to the flower farmers.

“We did not think there was anything wrong with the figurines before, but we have instructed staff to make necessary adjustments after receiving complaints,” Sung said.

Liu Yung-hsiu (劉永修), a section chief at the Taipei City Government’s Department of Economic Development, said the dolls did not leave much of an impression on him when he visited the show, adding that “maybe only mothers and children pay attention to such things.”

Liu said that as the exhibition’s duration was not long, the department was considering addressing the problem by making slight changes to the figurines’ facial expressions.