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YEAR OF THE DOG. "Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Bronze," an exhibit of a dozen sculptures by Ai Weiwei representing the animal symbols of the traditional Chinese zodiac, is on view through June 24 at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in Eugene, Oregon. Ai drew inspiration for the 12 heads from those originally located at Yuanming Yuan (Old Summer Palace), an imperial retreat outside Beijing. (Photo courtesy of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art)
From The Asian Reporter, V28, #3 (February 5, 2018), page 19.
"Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Bronze" on view at JSMA
"Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Bronze," an exhibit of a dozen sculptures by Ai Weiwei representing the animal symbols from the traditional Chinese zodiac, is currently on display in the North Courtyard at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art (JSMA) in Eugene, Oregon. The artist drew inspiration for the 12 heads from those originally located at Yuanming Yuan (Old Summer Palace), an imperial retreat outside Beijing.
The bronze sculptures, each roughly 10 feet tall, represent the signs of the lunar zodiac ó one mythical creature and 11 real-world animals. The pieces are on view through June 24, 2018.
Ai created the body of work in two sizes: the bronze monumental series and the gold collector series. The "Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Bronze" series was his first major public sculpture project.
Designed in the 18th century by two European Jesuits serving in the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) court of Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799; ruled 1735-1799), the twelve zodiac animal heads originally functioned as a water clock fountain in the European-style gardens of the Old Summer Palace.
In 1860, Yuanming Yuan was ransacked by French and British troops and the animal heads were pillaged. By re-creating and re-contextualizing the objects on an oversized scale, Ai focuses attention on issues of looting and repatriation while extending his ongoing exploration of the "fake" and the "copy" in relation to the original, encouraging open discourse on these complex topics.
Aiís "Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Bronze and Gold" series have been exhibited at more than 40 international venues and seen by millions of people since the official launch in New York City in 2011, making it one of the most viewed sculpture projects in the history of contemporary art.
One of Chinaís most prolific and provocative contemporary artists, Ai is known for major projects including the installation "Fairytale" at Documenta 12 in 2007 and his collaboration with architects Herzog & de Meuron on the design of the main stadium for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, as well as for his embrace of the internet and social media as active platforms for cultural commentary and artistic practice in their own right.
Throughout his career, Ai has offered insight into the relationships between art, society, and individual experience through his exploration of universal topics such as culture, history, politics, and tradition.
The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, located at 1430 Johnson Lane in Eugene, Oregon, is open to the public Wednesday through Sunday from 11:00am to 5:00pm, with extended hours on Thursday until 8:00pm. To learn more, call (541) 346-3027 or visit <jsma.uoregon.edu>.
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