Monday, July 25, 2011

Weiwei Fascinating.

When The Texan and I were in London, one of the things on my to-do list was to visit the Tate Modern.  I'm not really the artsy type, but I had an interest in seeing this museum.

We strolled through most of the halls pretty quickly stopping to say "Hey, there's a Jackson Pollock" or whatever artist we happen to recognize.  Then we stumbled across the Sunflower Seeds exhibit by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

This may look like nothing but a giant pile of sunflower seeds.  But it's literally millions of unique "seeds" that have been made with porcelain and painted by hand by more than 1600 Chinese workers.  No two are alike.  It's stunning in person.

And stunning that it began as a pile of 100 million seeds that Londoners were invited to see, touch and walk on before being shaped into the conical structure you see above.

The story behind the work is even more interesting.

For Ai, sunflower seeds (a common street snack in China) represent a gesture of human compassion, an opportunity for pleasure, friendship and kindness during a time (the Cultural Revolution) of extreme poverty and uncertainty.  He remembers sharing them with his friends. 

He also also intended for the seeds to represent mass production; hoping the viewer looks more closely at the "Made in China" phenomenon, particularly as they were walking or laying all over them.  It's pretty deep if you want it to be. 

The artist was actually arrested in April of this year and the art community got itself all in a tizzy about it.  He was held for several months and has since been released and presumably working on his next installment.

1 comment:

  1. Wow what an interesting piece. Thanks so much for sharing! I remember visiting that museum a few years back and being struck by how modern it is and how there are still (at least at that time) a few thatched roof houses nearby!