Thursday, October 14, 2010

ai weiwei : 100 million sunflower seeds

{} Ai WeiWei had a vision of 100 million hand-painted porcelain sunflower seed, that took 2 years and over 1,600 workers in JingDezhen, China (china's porcelain capital). The workers were grateful to have the work because it gave them work and money to provide for their families. This video is about 14 minutes long but very worth a viewing. I have watched a few of the videos, this one explains it best.

The seeds are part of an installation at the Tate Modern Turbine Hall in London. The seeds fill a hall at the Tate and weigh 150 tons. The exhibit was supposed to be open till May 11th 2011 but it was announced today that it is closed due to maintenance or health/safety concerns. A statement will be issued some time later. Some people feel this is now a political issue, read more below.

from {}

"The stripy husk shapes are a grey mass – you can crunchily stomp across them – and they appear uniform and featureless until one picks one up and looks at it closely.

Is this about the way we look at China? Do we see a label that says “Made in China” and inwardly shrug at the thought of millions of faceless factory workers? Or about Chinese- government censorship, so much in the news following the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo? Do we see those oppressed or killed under the regime of Chairman Mao, cut off before they could grow, or a city full of immensely skilled crafts-people, whose skills are no longer needed in mass-industrialised China? All this, yes, and more."

From the {} "The installation was closed all day and one visitor, who preferred not to be named, said she had been told it was for health and safety reasons because of the ceramic dust the tiny porcelain seeds were creating.

A Tate spokeswoman initially said it had been closed for maintenance rather than health and safety reasons. So many people had walked through it that it simply needed “putting back into shape,” she said.

But at 5.30pm the picture became less clear when she said the installation would not be reopening this evening and a statement would be issued some time later."

{} As you can see, sunflowers were often found on the Mao Zedong cultural revolution posters. Some people are now saying that political issues are the reason Ai Weiwei's sunflower exhibit has been closed. We will have to wait for a statement from the Tate.

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