Ai Weiwei exhibition to open in L.A.
By Lucy Li
posted: 08-24-11
Ai's Zodiac Heads
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There are artists that break all the rules, and then there's Ai Weiwei. Activist Ai Weiwei's installation, "Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads", is on exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art until February.

Although Ai will not be attending the opening of "Circle" because his bail arrangements prevent him from leaving Beijing, he was in a "chatty" mood while talking with an L.A. Times reporter. He opened up about his art, health and generally about life outside prison. He's also back on Twitter, although he's not allowed to mention his legal case.

The exhibition, according to Ai, is about "the future and the past, and how China is looked at today and how it looks at itself ... it has many, many different layers--is it art or not art, and to what degree?" "Circle" features large-scale statue heads of the Chinese zodiac, and is inspired by similar figures at the Yuan Ming Yuan palace, an imperial garden filled with invaluable antiques that was raided and pillaged by British and French forces in 1860. Ai hopes that the exhibition will appeal to artists and laymen alike.

An artist, curator, architect, photographer and cultural critic, Ai has been dealing with the routinely oppressing Chinese government for years, and was finally arrested this year in April. Chinese prison is no picnic: Ai lost 26 pounds, and in 2009 he even had to undergo brain surgery due to beating at the hands of the police. Still charged with tax evasion, Ai is currently living with his wife and young child in Beijing and respecting most of the terms of his bail. "Twitter is not allowed," Ai told the LA Times. "I have been warned again."

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