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Simbha

Ai Weiwei sculptures in Hermann Park

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I hadn't seen anything about this on HAIF, so I thought I'd post it...

Chinese artist/political critic Ai Weiwei's newest public art display has made its way to Hermann Park. The piece, titled Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads, depicts the heads of the twelve Chinese Zodiac animals mounted on matching poles. Each is about 10 feet tall. The piece is on a tour of the US and is currently installed at Lake Plaza until June 3.

Here's an image from the Chronicle's article on the installation (link is below):

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To be honest, when I first saw it in person, I didn't know what they were and they looked 'demonic' to me. I recognized them as Chinese Zodiac symbols, but I didn't care much for them. That being said, no piece of art appeals to everyone, and getting a Weiwei installation is a bit of a coup for Houston (especially for such an extended period of time). I think this is just one more reflection of Houston's growing importance on the international stage, which I see as a good thing.

Here's a recent article from the Chronicle on the subject: http://www.chron.com/life/article/New-sculptures-create-sense-of-place-3375029.php

And, the press release from the Houston Arts Alliance: http://www.houstonartsalliance.com/site/print/contemporary-arts-coup/

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I happened to be in Hermann Park twice in the last three weeks. The first time, the statues weren't there, the second time they had magically appeared.

It's odd, since I didn't realize that they were Chinese Zodiac figures, I assumed there was some hidden theme, and the only thing I could think of was the fact that 11 of the figures represent real animals that I could identify, the twelfth one is imaginary. It's sort of odd that the Chinese have one imaginary animal in their Zodiac, and furthermore, that imaginary animal seems to play an important role in Chinese mythology.

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I happened to be in Hermann Park twice in the last three weeks. The first time, the statues weren't there, the second time they had magically appeared.

It's odd, since I didn't realize that they were Chinese Zodiac figures, I assumed there was some hidden theme, and the only thing I could think of was the fact that 11 of the figures represent real animals that I could identify, the twelfth one is imaginary. It's sort of odd that the Chinese have one imaginary animal in their Zodiac, and furthermore, that imaginary animal seems to play an important role in Chinese mythology.

My understanding is that the dragon myth origin relates to one of two real creatures: dinosaur bones which were unearthed in ancient China or crocodiles which lived in the waters of major rivers. Note that Chinese ('Asian' or 'Eastern') dragons are wingless, so such mythical are not far from real creatures, living or long-gone.

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