When I took these photos of this work by the controversial Chinese artist and activist, Ai Weiwei in NYC, I had no idea this large scale public sculpture would making an extended stop in Pittsburgh.
Modeled on the once prized possessions of the former Emperors of China later looted by Europeans, this work pushes lots of historic and cultural buttons most of us don't fully understand.
"Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads is the centerpiece of a global, multi-year touring exhibition that will be presented in the United States, Europe, and Asia. The set of twelve zodiac heads was recently on display at the São Paolo Biennale in Brazil (September – December 2010). The official world tour for Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads by Ai Weiwei will launch in New York City at the historic Pulitzer Fountain at Grand Army Plaza near Central Park and the Plaza Hotel. The heads will be on display there from May through July 2011, with additional international and domestic venues to follow.
Designed in the 18th century by two European Jesuits serving in the court of the Qing dynasty Emperor Qianlong, the twelve zodiac animal heads originally functioned as a water clock-fountain, which was sited in the magnificent European-style gardens of the Yuanming Yuan. In 1860, the Yuanming Yuan was ransacked by French and British troops, and the heads were pillaged. In re-interpreting these objects on an oversized scale, Ai Weiwei focuses attention on questions of looting and repatriation, while extending his ongoing exploration of the “fake” and the copy in relation to the original."
PITTSBURGH, PA – 10.01.12 - 12.31.12
The Andy Warhol Museum & Carnegie Museum of Art