Saturday, January 5, 2013

Ai Weiwei: Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads

Where: Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden

When: through February 24, 2013

This installation is outside of the museum itself, in the center courtyard.  This picture gives a very good idea of what you'll see - very large animal heads on tall poles.  I couldn't help but be reminded of the way the English used to put the heads of their dead enemies on spikes to warn other potential rebels of the cost of threatening the status quo.

Of course, I have no idea what the message of these heads may be.  Since Ai is a dissident artist, there may be some aspect of this work that is meant to evoke thoughts of governments quashing rebellion.  On the other hand, it might just be a way to create representations of the Chinese Zodiac.

Since I was born in a Dragon year, I paid particular attention to that head.  It's more fanciful than the other heads - not surprising, since it's the only creature that isn't real.  It's also more elaborate than the others, perhaps in an effort to show the fire-breathing power that is part of the dragon myth?

If you're headed to the Hirshhorn (perhaps to see the big Ai Weiwei show inside), it's a nice complement to see this as well.  You can even make time on your way to the Air and Space Museum or to the Castle; it only takes a few minutes to walk around the circle of heads.

Verdict: How often do you get to see zodiac animals on spikes?  Go have a look.

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