Ai Weiwei at National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City
Ai Weiwei just opened a sculpture exhibition at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. The work, entitled Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads, was seen in the past in front of the Plaza Hotel by Cenral Park in NYC. The twelve bronze sculptures have been around the world, as well, but for the first time they have made their in Mexico.
Here is Ai Weiwei’s explanation of the piece:
“Ai Weiwei has reinterpreted the twelve bronze animal heads representing the traditional Chinese zodiac that once adorned the famed fountain-clock of the Yuanming Yuan, an imperial retreat in Beijing. Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads is the artist’s first major public sculpture project.
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.”