On the 16th of April 2011, i went to London town for 3 days and during these 3 days i saw a lot of things but on the second day i went to the TATE, which i was very excited about. In the Tate Modern/ the headquarters of art and there were 3 exhibitions, of which i only saw 2 as you had to pay for the third but the two i did see contained some of my favourite ever artists in the same building.
The unilever series: Ai WEI wei
The first exhibition was an installation of massive proportions and covering the vast space of the turbine hall was what look like a lumpy grey carpet from the bridge yet on closer inspection you could see that these looked like individual seeds. The work was so large that it took your breath away, there must have been thousands of these seeds, which it was revealed were actually sunflower seeds all handmade out of clay and this information definitely adds to the sureen and overwhelming atmosphere of the piece. Here is some information off:
Sunflower Seeds is 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 Seeds invites us to look more closely at the ‘Made in China’ phenomenon and the geo-politics of cultural and economic exchange today."
Juliet Bingham, Curator, Tate Modern
"Ai Weiwei's Unilever Series commission, Sunflower Seeds, is a beautiful, poignant and thought-provoking sculpture. The thinking behind the work lies in far more than just the idea of walking on it. The precious nature of the material, the effort of production and the narrative and personal content create a powerful commentary on the human condition. Sunflower Seeds is a vast sculpture that visitors can contemplate at close range on Level 1 or look upon from the Turbine Hall bridge.
The fact that the seeds were actually clay replicas and that i couldn't walk on the work for me almost made it, as it invited you in and then the temptation for some became to great, as i saw a group of people run onto the work and the lone security guard panicking. The work was so vast that it blew your mind that these were all individually made. I thought that they had been individually made by the artist when i first saw the exhibition but the fact that they were handcrafted in a Chinese factory, i suppose is quite meaningful in an arts context with the 'geopolitical' issues of china but i think i liked it better when i thought he had made them all.