This traditional Chinese lion is part of the exhibit created by Ai Wei Wei for installation in the former Federal Prison on Alcatraz Island in San Franciso Bay. The irony is deliberate: an artist kept under house arrest for criticizing the government of his native country creates art to be seen and heard in a prison that is now open to all the world.
Imprisonment of political dissidents is the subject of the work. In an old cell block, he has installed recordings of everyone from Martin Luther King jr. to Pussy Riot. Each 5 x 8 cell plays a different recording. And then there is the old factory room which has the floor covered in portraits of the dissidents done in Legos:
I asked one of the interpreters on hand for the exhibit about taking photographs. She said the artist encourages it and is himself an enthusiastic user of social media.
By the way, thanks to my Annie for walking by just at the right moment when I was photographing the lion.