sunflower seeds

photo: peter macdiarmid/getty images

ai weiwei's sunflower seeds, at the tate modern, is the 11th commission in the unilever series, which gives artists full use of turbine hall, an open, industrial space.  since its inception, the series has provided a unique environment for artists to show relevant, innovative work. years ago, olafur eliasson's weather project, also part of the series, completely captured my imagination and has since been one of my favorite works. this new installation is vying for that top spot. i hope i get a chance to see this new work, in person.

photos credited to tate photography copyright of ai weiwei

photo david levene for the guardian

sunflower seeds, uses 100 million hand-crafted porcelain seeds, poured throughout the hall to create a kind of carpet.  each seed is hand-sculpted and hand-painted in small shops in the chinese city of jingdezhen, giving "made a china" a new spin.  according to the guardian, weiwei used the town that once made porcelain for the imperial court to generate the seeds, ultimately saving it from bankruptcy.

photo stefan wermuth/reuters 

there are so many incredible elements to this installation, starting with the decision to use sunflower seeds and extending so far beyond.  it touches on ideas of space, scale, community, the individual and the masses, mass production and the hand-made. 

i'm particularly taken with weiwei's response to the question of whether or not museum visitors could take a seed with them.  according to charlotte higgins at the guardian,  weiwei responded by saying;"If I was in the audience I would definitely want to take a seed. But for the museum, it is a total work, and taking a seed would affect the work. Institutions have their own policies. But I know I would want to take a seed..." genius!

if i make it over to the tate before the show closes, i wonder if i will have a hard time leaving all those seeds behind.

photos and story via the guardian and tate modern
link via designboom
thanks c for the link!

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