Tag Archives: The Unilever Series: Ai Weiwei Sunflower Seeds

Seeds For Sale

A pile of Ai Weiwei's 'Sunflower Seeds'

For the first time, a 100 kilogram pile of Ai Weiwei’s ceramic ‘Sunflower Seeds’ is up for auction at Sotheby’s, with an estimate of £80,000 – £120,000.  The seeds are said to be valued by weight, which makes the artist’s current installation at Tate Modern worth over £150 million.  If that’s not in your price range, you can try hunting for a single seed supposedly listed on Facebook for £1. Buy buy buy!

Ai Weiwei discusses Sunflower Seeds

The Unilever Series: Ai Weiwei, Sunflower Seeds, Tate Modern, Bankside, London, until 2 May 2011.

You can look but you can’t touch

Visitors view Ai Weiwei's 'Sunflower Seeds' from afar

Ai Weiwei’s installation Sunflower Seeds has re-opened at Tate Modern, but things have changed…  Following reports that tiny dust particles generated by the porcelain seeds could potentially cause respiratory problems in some visitors, the installation may now only be viewed from a distance.  Of course this changes the very nature of an installation that was conceived of as interactive and immersive. Now, from the ‘safety’ of cordoned off areas, visitors are offered a feel by seed-toting gallery attendants.  At least the Tate no longer has to worry about visitors pinching seeds

Ai Weiwei’s installation closed

Some of Ai Weiwei's 'toxic' seeds, Tate Modern

Sunflower Seeds, Ai Weiwei’s current installation at Tate Modern has closed unexpectedly.  Despite initial reports that the closure was due to routine maintenance, it has been suggested that there are health and safety concerns with the fine – reportedly toxic – dust that the ceramic seeds have generated.  The Tate is yet to release an official statement.

Ai Weiwei fills Tate with seeds

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Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has filled the Tate Modern’s turbine hall with 100 million ‘seeds’.  The grey expanse on first impression suggests industrial production when in fact, the objects have been hand-crafted and painted by artisans in the Chinese city of Jingdezhen.  Made of porcelain, each seed is unique. Visitors are invited to stroll upon them, to pick them up and examine them – but you can’t take one home.  The artist seems to be at odds with the Tate’s ruling, stating: “If I was in the audience I would definitely want to take a seed”.  Removed from the masses, each finely crafted object becomes a thing in itself, and it’s this tension between the combined and the singular that makes the installation so elegant.

The Unilever Series: Ai Weiwei, Sunflower Seeds, Tate Modern, Bankside, London, until 2 May 2011.