a tale of a few cities

Tate Modern, The Unilever Series: Ai Weiwei

Posted in Art, Installation, London, Sculpture by petercombe on February 8, 2011

The Unilever Series: Ai WeiweiSunflower Seeds, 2010

I’m going to London in a few days for a couple of weeks and am looking forward to seeing Ai Weiwei’s installation at the Tate Modern. Sunflower Seeds, made up of millions of small works, each apparently identical, but actually unique. However realistic they may seem, these life-sized sunflower seed husks are in fact intricately hand-crafted in porcelain.

Each seed has been individually sculpted and painted by specialists working in small-scale workshops in the Chinese city of Jingdezhen. Far from being industrially produced, they are the effort of hundreds of skilled hands. Poured into the interior of the Turbine Hall’s vast industrial space, the 100 million seeds form a seemingly infinite landscape.

Porcelain is almost synonymous with China and, to make this work, Ai Weiwei has manipulated traditional methods of crafting what has historically been one of China’s most prized exports. Sunflower Seedsinvites us to look more closely at the ‘Made in China’ phenomenon and the geo-politics of cultural and economic exchange today. More at Tate >

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