Wyoming Arts Council

Ai Weiwei’s “Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads” exhibit comes to Jackson this summer

ai weiwei

Provocative Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, shown with the Dog sculpture (left), has selected the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole for his Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads exhibition of 12 monumental bronzes, which also includes The Dragon (right).

This promises to be an amazing exhibit:

Animal sightings are common in Jackson Hole, but the cultural significance of animals beyond the region will be further explored when the National Museum of Wildlife Art hosts Ai Weiwei’s “Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads” from May 9 through October 11. The monumental sculptural suite of 12 bronze heads representing the animals of the Chinese zodiac, by esteemed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, will be installed on the museum’s Sculpture Trail, overlooking the National Elk Refuge.

About the “Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads” installation:

•  Each animal sculpture stands roughly ten feet tall and weighs about 800 pounds.

• The eleven actual animals (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, snake, horse, ram, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig) and one mythical creature (dragon) are installed in the order of their appearance in the Chinese zodiac, prompting visitors to ask, “What’s your sign?”

• The sculptures re-envision the originals designed for the fountain-clock of the Yuanming Yuan (Garden of Perfect Brightness) in the 18th century during the Qing dynasty (1644–1912).

• The Yuanming Yuan was destroyed and looted by invading Europeans. Ai offers this body of work as a symbol of Chinese national pride, and as a representation of the issues of looting and repatriation.

The show arrives in Jackson after being exhibited in Mexico City, Chicago, London, Toronto, New York, São Paulo, Taipei, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C among other international venues. In addition to the sculptures, the exhibit offers a short video depicting the history of the work and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the “Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads.”

One of China’s most prolific and provocative contemporary artists, Ai Weiwei (b. 1957, Beijing) is known for such major projects as the installation of “Fairytale” at Documenta 12, in 2007, and his collaboration with architects Herzog & de Meuron on “The Bird’s Nest,” the main stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, as well as for his embrace of the Internet and social media as active platforms for commentary and as art forms in their own right. In 2012, Ai Weiwei received, from the Human Rights Foundation, the inaugural Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent.

Media Contact: Darla Worden, WordenGroup Public Relations, darla@wordenpr.com303.777.7667.

The National Museum of Wildlife Art, founded in 1987, is a world-class art museum holding more than 5,000 artworks representing wild animals from around the world. Featuring prominent artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Andy Warhol, Robert Kuhn, John James Audubon, and Carl Rungius, the Museum’s unsurpassed permanent collection chronicles much of the history of wildlife in art from 2500 B.C. to the present. Built into a hillside overlooking the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole, Wyo., the Museum was designated the “National Museum of Wildlife Art of the United States” by order of Congress in 2008. Boasting a museum shop, interactive children’s gallery, café, and outdoor sculpture trail, the Museum is only two-and-a-half miles north of Jackson Town Square, and two miles from the gateway of Grand Teton National Park. Located at 2820 Rungius Road, in Jackson, Wyo.; 307-733-5771.

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