Sunflower Seeds

There’s lots of coverage today of the new installation in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. The Chinese artist Ai WeiWei has covered the hall floor with 10 million porcelain sunflower seeds that have been hand made and individually painted, work which took 1,600 artisans over two and a half years.

According to the Guardian review, “Ai also likened the artwork to Twitter – a vast sea of ideas and communication contributed by individual people. Ai now uses Twitter regularly after the blogs he kept were in turn censored by the Chinese authorities. One of his online projects has been to amass the names of those killed in the Sichuan earthquakes of 2008.”

WeiWei is keen to communicate around the work and is inviting visitors to post their questions or answer some of his by video at the exhibition or via Twitter. The piece does look extraordinary. I’m planning to get to it soon.

Postcript: As I tagged this post ‘participatory’  I was struck by how eloquently the work itself, and Ai Weiwei’s emphasis on open discussion around it, expresses the absence of free participation in China.


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