Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads has been a popular attraction at the Hirshhorn since its arrival in April. Surrounding the fountain in the center of the Hirshhorn, the zodiac heads have an interactive appeal as viewers pose for pictures in front of their zodiac animal. Much like Western astrological signs, the Chinese zodiac signs also have specific characteristics and traits assigned to them – both good and bad. A person’s zodiac symbol was (and is) culturally significant in many parts of Asia, where a person’s zodiac sign is sometimes seriously considered when entering a relationship.
This cultural significance is something that Ai Weiwei likes to utilize in many of his works to communicate his messages, often indicated by referencing objects that are almost synonymous with Chinese traditions and values.