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Photos by Ben Spurr.
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We've got heads on sticks.
At a ceremony Tuesday, the city unveiled a unique monumental art installation in Nathan Phillips Square.
Created by acclaimed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads is exactly what the name implies: 12 large sculptures of heads representing the 12 animal signs of the Chinese Zodiac. The work will be in the square's reflecting pool until September 22, and coincides with the Art Gallery of Ontario's upcoming exhibition Ai Weiwei: According to What?, which opens on August 17.
In her opening remarks, Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam called Ai "the most important contemporary living artist of our time." The outspoken 55-year-old has been targeted by the Chinese authorities for advocating for a more transparent government, and despite being internationally renowned is barred from leaving China.
Mayor Rob Ford was also on hand for the ceremony, and helped unwrap one of the sculptures; a giant rat head. Ford said he was "absolutely delighted" to host the exhibit, which he called an "impressive series."
"Public art helps unite the people of Toronto and our visitors in a shared cultural experience. I invite everyone to visit City Hall and enjoy this once in a lifetime exhibit," the mayor said. "My Zodiac sign - I was born in 1969 - is the Rooster. So, I love astrology, I've followed it my whole life, and I'm sure everybody knows their sign and often reads their horoscope."
He then hopped onto the base of a giant rooster head.