Houston is getting a visit from contemporary Chinese artist, architect and social activist Ai Weiwei’s “Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads,” a large-scale outdoor art project. Weiwei’s works are monumental bronze sculptures set on pedestals (each weighs 1,000 pounds and stands ten feet tall). The work is a reinterpretation of 12 animal heads — based on the Chinese zodiac — which once adorned a fountain clock at an imperial retreat in 18th-century Beijing. The originals were pillaged in 1860 by French and British troops; some later showed up in auction houses in Paris and Hong Kong. “Circle” explores issues of looting and repatriation, real and fake art.
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In a promotional video, Weiwei says that unlike many of his countrymen, who demand the return of the original pillaged sculptures, he does not consider the heads to be national Chinese treasures. “They were designed by an Italian, made by a French [person] for a Qing Dynasty emperor, which was actually somebody who invaded China. So if we talk about national treasure, which nation are we talking about?” 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Through June 3. Hermann Park, 6201 Hermann Park Drive. For information, call 713-527-9330 or visit www.zodiacheads.com. Free.
March 3-June 3, 6 a.m.-11 p.m., 2012