Ai Weiwei, the Chinese dissent artist who has been detained for over two months now, premiered a new public exhibition at the Pulitzer Fountain outside the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. The Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads consists of twelve bronzes representing the traditional Chinese birth-year animals, arranged on poles in a semi-circle. The menagerie includes: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, boar.
There is a backstory to the art; Ai Weiwei’s heads are larger versions of a piece designed in the 18th century by European Jesuits for the Manchu emperor Qianlong. They were parts of a famous fountain clock in the Summer Palace. However, the heads were all looted by the British and French during the Second Opium War in 1860. To date, the Chinese government has retrieved five of them (ox, tiger, horse, monkey and boar), two more (rat and rabbit) were auctioned recently at Christies to an unsympathetic patriot who refused to pay. The other five remain lost, and may never be recovered.
Here is a video of NYC city mayor Bloomberg giving opening remarks to the exhibit:
You can check out all of my photographs in this Flickr gallery. There is also some good secondary coverage of the exhibit:
- 12 Heads Do the Talking for a Silenced Artist, the New York Times
- Detained Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei’s CIRCLE OF ANIMALS…ZODIAC HEADS Sculptures Unveiled At The Pulitzer Fountain Outside The Plaza, NYC Loves NYC blog
|This entry was posted on Sunday, May 15th, 2011 at 3:00 pm and is tagged with second opium war, ai weiwei, manchu emperor, emperor qianlong, tiger horse, public exhibition, secondary coverage, nyc city, chinese artist, semi circle, birth year, christies, jesuits, city mayor, backstory, new york times, bronzes, opening remarks, chinese government, boar. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback.|