23 Feb Sci-fi fans, rejoice: RoboCop statue coming to Detroit

Good news, sci-fi fans: RoboCop is headed to Detroit.

Just six days after raising donations on the Internet, a group of local artists and fans of the 1987 cult classic exceeded the fund-raising goal of $50,000 on February 16th to build a larger-than-life sculpture of the crime-fighting cyborg.

With 1,500 donations and hundreds pouring in every day at www.detroitneedsrobocop.com, the group plans to continue raising money until the March 29 deadline to make the statue “as big and good as possible,” said Detroit artist Jerry Paffendorf, who is helping raise donations.

“This could be a multi-hundred-thousand-dollar KickStarter,” Paffendorf said, referring to the online service hub for ideas looking for funding. “It’s remarkable.”

The statue has set off debates about the artistic value of a RoboCop statue. Some complain that the movie, about a dystopian, crime-ridden Detroit, would hurt the city’s image.

Others said it’s a fun way to bring more attention to the struggling, but resilient city.

Fund-raising began last week after Detroit Mayor Dave Bing politely rejected a suggestion on Twitter that RoboCop would improve the city’s image. Although the Tweet was a joke from a New England computer technician, fans of RoboCop swarmed cyberspace to call for a statue.

Once the price tag is determined, a team of skilled sculptures, including a team that worked with Bjork’s husband, Matthew Barney, will build the sculpture from any number of materials. The group is working with the Mayor’s Office to consider public spots, such as areas near Comerica Park or a downtown park.

If that doesn’t work out, the statue may end up at Imagination Station, an outdoor art project cofounded by Paffendorf near the abandoned Michigan Central Station just off Michigan Avenue.

Paffendorf and other local artists hope RoboCop is just the beginning of a series of public art installations.

“With all of this publicity, we have a big opportunity to extend this to other projects in Detroit,” Paffendorf said.

Supporters of the statue got a big boost Tuesday when San Francisco businessman, Pete Hottelet, donated $25,000.

“Despite everything, we live in a great country, and every day, there’s an opportunity out there to do something awesome,” Hottelet, owner of Omni Consumer Products, told the Free Press. “You just have to find it.”

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