Much thanks to the Gothamist for sharing videos of speeches made at the official opening today of Ai Weiwei’s “Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads,” a public sculpture installation at the Pulitzer Fountain at Central Park.
I first heard about this installation within the last week or so, and am excited to go see it. It is the first art installation to be done around the Pulitzer Fountain, and has extra meaning right now, as Ai Weiwei was disappeared by the Chinese government nearly exactly one month ago today.
The videos, I suppose, speak for themselves. I am sure that Mayor Bloomberg speaks at a great many events, and has a great many things on his mind at any given time, and I would not hold it against him if Ai Weiwei and current art events in NYC were not the very top things on his mind. To be honest, as I sit here in my dorm room in Honolulu, struggling to finish a paper and thinking about my plans for the summer, these things are not exactly foremost in my mind either. But, Bloomberg nevertheless has some very powerful and meaningful things to say, about diversity, free speech, and public art, about how these things make New York great, and about how over one billion people on this planet suffer without the most basic fundamental human right – the right to free expression.
I am embedding the videos here, so as to have some length and content to my post. But please do click through to the Gothamist’s coverage for some additional comments, and links to tons of great articles about New York culture and issues.
A number of prominent people from the New York art scene, especially Asian art curators and others with connection to Ai Weiwei or related circles, were given a brief chance to speak. It was fun and interesting for me to recognize names and faces – specifically Melissa Chu of the Asia Society, and Alexandra Munroe of the Guggenheim – and to realize that I really am beginning to “know people”, to have some “ins” in the Asian art world, especially in New York. Which is not to say that these prominent and influential people have even the vaguest idea who I am, but that’s a step that will come later. For now, one step at a time.
Ai Weiwei’s piece will be on view in Central Park until July 15.