Denver’s Civic Center Park is currently hosting Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s touring sculpture exhibit entitled Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads. Residents of our city will be able to enjoy this exhibit for an entire year until October of 2018, an unusually long time for an exhibit of this type. Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads has also been featured in many other cities, including São Paulo, London, New York, Prague, and Vienna.
In addition to his art and filmmaking, Ai Weiwei is an architect who contributed to the iconic design of the Bird’s Nest Stadium, constructed for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Weiwei is also well known as a human rights activist who often mixes art and political protest. His works frequently concern human rights, migration, nationalism and refugees. Weiwei was imprisoned for a time in China in 2011, and now resides mostly in Berlin.
Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads features the twelve animals of the Chinese Zodiac (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig) arranged around the Sea Lion Fountain in Civic Center Park. Each bronze animal head weighs around 2000 pounds, and is about 5 feet tall. Denver’s setting, around a fountain, is ideal because this work represents a reinterpretation of an original Chinese sculpture surrounding the fountain-clock of the Yuanming Yuan, an 18th century imperial retreat in Beijing. During a time of war in the 1860’s, the heads were stolen, and some were later destroyed.
Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads can be viewed from many different vantage points within Civic Center Park, including through the water spray from the sea lion sculpture. Be sure to visit to Civic Center Park sometime to enjoy these detailed, playful yet powerful animals from an impressive, internationally known artist.