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Globetrotting

News and notes from around the world

SHANGHAI

LIVING LEGENDS
An artist re-creates a popular Chinese myth

Oh, that dirty rat. Once upon a time, legend has it, China’s Jade Emperor had all the members of the animal kingdom race across a river; the first 12 to finish would be included in the Shengxiao, the Chinese zodiac calendar, in the order in which they placed. And while accounts vary, most have the rat hopping aboard the ox, jumping off at the end and coming in first.

Perhaps because of that dubious finish, New York artist Duke Riley recently saw fit to stage a rematch of sorts on a canal on the outskirts of Shanghai. Traditional gondolas ferried animals representing the original top 12 (with a few substitutions, including a large lizard in place of the dragon), while local opera singers at each boat’s bow belted out praise for the contestants.

“No calendars will be reset at the finish line, nor will any closer understanding of that mythical day be realized,” Riley said before the race. “The only realization will be a brief moment of divine absurdity.” (And possibly a bit of divine justice, too, as the rat dropped well out of first place.) Below, the finishing order of the 2012 contenders compared with their standings in the original race. — SAM POLCER

1. Horse (+6)
2. Ox (-0)
3. Monkey (+6)
4. Rooster (+6)
5. Tiger (-2)
6. Rat (-5)
7. Dog (+4)
8. Pig (+4)
9. Rabbit (-5)
10. Goat (-2)
11. Dragon (-6)
12. Snake (-6)

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