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Portrait of a sculptor


In May 2001, in the middle of Odense´s pedestrian street, a bronze sculpture of a 12 year old, starved black boy with a large pair of shining new Nike shoes is watching the well-fed Danes rushing by. JUST DO IT, says the slogan on the polished black granite pedestal, that forms a harsh contrast to the shinning white Nike shoes.

With this sculpture, I‘ll pinpoint the hypocrisy of companies who in their lifestyle commercials are linking their brands with concepts such as freedom and equality and at the same time are cynically exploiting and oppressing the workers who make the products”, Galschiot says.

Nike has adapted a code of conduct. However, this by no means ensures high ethical standards. From Nike’s catalogue of sins can be quoted: violence against workers in Vietnam - arbitrary sacking of critical workers in El Salvador - workers denied the right of organisation - salaries of about 1 USD a day in several southeast Asian countries.

Ironically, the macabre sculpture was set up in the pedestrian street in co-operation with the Chamber of Commerce in connection with the city’s art- and cultural days. However, Jens Galschiot does not believe that this should be seen as the merchants’ backing of the political consumers’ movement.

During the ASEM 4 Summit in Copenhagen in September 2002, 27 starving boys took the occasion to demonstrate for social justice. They blamed the summit for focusing on corporations’ profit instead of poor people’s interests. The event was arranged in co-operation with Care-Denmark and the Salvation Army. The latter organisation supplied the boys with Adidas, Nike and Reebok shoes.