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Luminous mannequins tell tales
By Qu Zhi

VISITORS can touch, embrace and talk to a group of phosphorescent mannequins, who respond in Chinese and tell their stories in an interactive installation at Sinan Mansions from Thursday through Sunday.

The installation, "The Standing Men," is comprised of tall luminous human figures lighted pink and blue and other colors. They hail passersby and light up when they are touched; they respond to words with their own words, lights and colors.

They talk about the difficult life of North African immigrants in France.

The work was created by three French designers who were shocked to see police in Lyon roust and toss illegal squatters from North Africa into the street.

"We decided to give them back their place and to offer them a space to tell their stories, which is quite unknown, and their life experience," says Pierre Amoudruz, one of the designers, who was joined by Valentin Durif and Victor Roux.

"The idea of revealing some untold feelings, of freeing expression and sharing it, was born this way. So we started to use our skills in light, sound, design and programming," Amoudruz says.

In France, the immigrants from the Maghreb are known as shibani, or standing men, because they usually life without a roof over their heads.

Instead of being a spectator, the audience touches and engages in a tactile dialogue with luminous beings and gets feedback.

All the mannequins are the same generic male - they look like anyone and everyone.

"Yes, in appearance, we are all the same and we can easily make generalizations about minorities," Amoudruz says. "But take some time to meet each person and you will see how different they are, how rich."

Also, this installation showcases how people behave in front of robots. Some hug, kiss or cuddle with "plastic dummies."

The designers say that the audience typically does not touch an art work or installation and say that are is "overprotected." Here, visitors can interact.

"It's more like an individual and collective game with the aesthetic experience," the designer adds.

Date: May 23-26, all day

Admission: Free

Venue: Sinan Mansions, 55 Sinan Rd

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