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News+Politics
Zodiac Sculptures By Dissident Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei Visit Canada
June 18, 2013
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Photo: Catherine Stockhausen

Some striking sculptures by Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei just made their Canadian debut at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto.

The piece is called 'Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads', and it features 12 large bronze sculptures, one for each of the zodiac signs.

The sculptures have appeared in nine cities to date, including Sao Paolo and New York. They're showing in Canada ahead of a retrospective of Ai's work at the Art Gallery of Ontario, 'Ai Weiwei: According to What?', which opens August 17.

Ai's zodiac animal sculptures will be on display in the Square outside Toronto's City Hall for a little over two months.

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Photo: Catherine Stockhausen

AGO director Matthew Teitelbaum explained the cultural relevance of the piece at today's unveiling.

"They are works that Ai Weiwei made in response to a series of works that were done in the late 1700s and taken away to Europe during the Opium Wars in the mid-19th century," he told CBC News.

"He, in a sense, has repatriated them by remaking them and having us think about the relationship of contemporary China to Chinese history, and how it has been eroded by its relations with other countries," Teitelbaum continued.

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Photo: Catherine Stockhausen

Ai is an outspoken critic of the Chinese government, and he is currently unable to leave China.

He was incarcerated by the Chinese authorities for 81 days in 2011. When he was released, following an international outcry, the government charged him with tax evasion and demanded approximately $2.4 million.

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Photo: Catherine Stockhausen

Via CBC News

Related:

Dissident Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei Drops Heavy Metal Video Mocking State Power

Dissident Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei Goes Gangnam Style... With Handcuffs

Authorities In China Build A Major Road Around This House, As Elderly Couple Refuses To Move

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