Ai Weiwei / 艾未未 : Sunflower Seeds

Ai Weiwei / 艾未未 : Sunflower Seeds

Image by Dominic’s pics
Ai Weiwei 艾未未 Sunflower Seeds at the Tate Modern, London – part of the Unilever Series. 12th October 2010 to 2nd May 2011.

See also a related set of CGI / 3D Computer Generated Images based on the work.

The work is made up of 100 million porcelain ceramic sunflower seeds, with the characteristic dark stripes created by individually hand painting a glaze by skilled craft workers in workshops in the Chinese city of Jingdezhen / 景德镇, a region with a very long history of production of quality pottery.

The seeds are grey and white, but the combination of skylight and artificial lighting creates purple and green hues in the shadows.

Visitors could originally walk upon the "field of seeds", but health concerns over the small quantities of airborne ceramic / vitreous dust that might be generated by friction between the seeds resulted in the work being fenced off with a knee high wire rope, and continuous guarding.

Both the public and the artist were not very happy with this arrangement.

Ai Weiwei ("Ai" is the family name) needles away at the conflict that arises between China’s ferocious economic freedoms and growth, and the restrictions resulting from an authoritarian single party state. He has both been the artistic consultant on the Beijing National (Olympic) Stadium and also endured house arrest and international travel restrictions. On one occasion he was so badly assaulted by the police that he almost died, requiring surgery to attend to internal bleeding from a head injury.

All the same. All different. Sunflower seeds are a traditional chinese snack food. You can offer them to people.



Ai Weiwei [Tate Modern]
Ai Weiwei [Wikipedia]
Ai Weiwei assault [The Guardian article]

2 thoughts on “Ai Weiwei / 艾未未 : Sunflower Seeds

  1. On the 3rd of April 2011, Ai Weiwei was detained by police at the airport in Beijing en route to Hong Kong. It is believed by some that the motivation for the arrest was in part a response to ambiguous titles associated with a series of nude self portraits, one of which can be seen in the comment above. The artist’s modesty is being protected in the photo by a sculpture of a horse’s head.

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