The work of internationally acclaimed Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei is now on display in Civic Center Park.
Weiwei has reinterpreted the 12 bronze animal heads representing the traditional Chinese zodiac that once adorned the famed fountain-clock of an imperial retreat in Beijing. “Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads” is the artist’s first major public sculpture project.
The 12 zodiac animal heads, designed by two European Jesuits in the 18th century, originally functioned as a water clock fountain in the gardens of the Yuanming Yuan. The heads were pillaged when the Yuanming Yuan was ransacked by French and British troops in 1860. Weiwei reinterpreted the objects on an oversized scale to focus attention on questions of looting and repatriation.
“Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads” is a global touring exhibition that will be on view in the United States, Europe and Asia. The tour launched in New York City at the Pulitzer Fountain at Grand Army Plaza in 2011.
The installation, which will be on display through next October, surrounds the Sea Lions Fountain on the north end of the park. A complementary educational exhibit, “Ai Wewei: Art & Social Change,” is housed in the MicNichols Civic Center Building nearby at 144 W. Colfax Ave.