Extension to keep Zodiac Heads in Jackson Hole until January

AP News
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Posted: Oct 21, 2015 4:54 PM
Extension to keep Zodiac Heads in Jackson Hole until January

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A major sculpture installation by a dissident Chinese artist will remain on display in Jackson Hole three months later than originally planned, giving people to a chance to view the artwork with snow-covered mountains in the background.

The exhibit "Ai Weiwei: Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads" originally was set to move on from the National Museum of Wildlife Art this month. Now the 12 bronze animal heads representing the animals of the traditional Chinese zodiac will remain on display until Jan. 3.

Ski season at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and Snow King will be underway in December, making the heads a potential attraction between ski outings or for those traveling with skiers.

"It's definitely very much a destination exhibition," museum spokeswoman Jennifer Marshall Weydeveld said Wednesday.

The exhibit went on display just outside the museum in May. Organizers decided that rather than ship the heads back to their base in New York, they should go straight to their next exhibition at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, California, early next year.

The heads depicting a rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, ram, monkey, rooster, dog and pig weigh around 800 pounds each. Two copies have been on tour around the world.

The National Elk Refuge and Gros Ventre Range have provided one of the more unusual and scenic backdrops for the work.

"The feedback has been all over the map," Weydeveld said. "You can just enjoy the heads for what they are without knowing anything about the political statement that is behind them. Or get deeper and understand what inspired him to create these heads."

Private ownership of similar heads looted by Europeans from a Chinese palace during the Second Opium War in the mid-1800s has been controversial. Ai Weiwei's zodiac heads echo the fact that the original heads remain objects of Chinese national pride.

The artist often has encountered trouble as a critic of his government. In 2011, Chinese authorities jailed him without charge for more than seven weeks and then withheld his passport.

He got his passport back last summer and has been in Germany and Great Britain.