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"Ai Weiwei Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Gold" on view for the first time in Moscow
Ai Weiwei with the “Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Gold” in his home in Beijing, 2010.
MOSCOW.- Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Gold series are now on view as part of the "Personal Choice: Collectors’ Selections from their own Collections" exhibition at the Garage Center for Contemporary Art in Moscow (February 14 – April 6, 2014). This is the first time the Zodiac Heads: Gold series are on exhibit in Russia.

The "Personal Choice" exhibit also includes works by major Russian collectors and examines collecting on two levels: as a subjective phenomenon based on the connection between the owner and the artwork; and as a social gesture, where the personal commitment of building a private collection makes a significant contribution to public life now or in the future. Offering a window into the time-honored tradition of art collecting in Russia, the exhibition presents works selected by some of the most prominent contemporary collectors in the country.

Collectors who have contributed works to "Personal Choice" include: Dmitry Aksenov, Mikhail Alshibaya, Leonid Blavatnik, Viktor Bondarenko, Andrey Cheglakov, Leonid Dobrovsky, Vladislav Doronin, Leonid Friedland, Andrey Gorodilov, Konstantin Grigorishin, Alexey Kuzmichev, Iveta and Tamaz Manasherov, Igor Markin, Margarita
Pushkina, Dmitry Razumov, Ekaterina and Vladimir Semenikhin, Olga Slutsker,
Vladimir Smirnov, Andrei Tretyakov, Igor Tsukanov, Olga Vashchilina, Alexander
Zhukov, Dasha Zhukova and Roman Abramovich.

Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Gold are a reinterpretation of the twelve bronze animal heads representing the traditional Chinese zodiac that once adorned the famed fountain-clock of the Yuanming Yuan (Old Summer Palace), an imperial retreat outside Beijing. Ai Weiwei has created his body of work in two sizes: the Bronze monumental series and the Gold collector series.

Designed in the 18th century by two European Jesuits serving in the court of the Qing dynasty [1644 – 1911] Emperor Qianlong, the twelve zodiac animal heads originally functioned as a water clock-fountain, which was sited in the magnificent European-style gardens of the Yuanming Yuan. In 1860, the Yuanming Yuan was ransacked by French and British troops, and the heads were pillaged. In re-interpreting these objects on an oversized scale, Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads focuses attention on questions of looting and repatriation, while extending his ongoing exploration of the “fake” and the copy in relation to the original.



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