Two self-portrait busts: one chocolate and one soap that have been either licked or lathered by the artist.
A close-up photograph of some of the seeds, each kiln-fired twice: once before being hand-painted, once again after. Each is unique Sunflower seeds are an omnipresent Chinese snack, but also were a common food during the harsh years of the Cultural Revolution. Some may also think of sweatshop-powered globalization.About the exhibitionSunflower 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.Update: Friday 22 October 2010 The landscape of sunflower seeds can be looked upon from the Turbine Hall bridge, or viewed at close-range in the east end of the Turbine Hall on Level 1. It is no longer possible to walk on the surface of the work, but visitors can walk close to the edges of the sunflower seed landscape on the west and north sides.Although porcelain is very robust, we have been advised that the interaction of visitors with the sculpture can cause dust which could be damaging to health following repeated inhalation over a long period of time. In consequence, Tate, in consultation with the artist, has decided not to allow members of the public to walk across the sculpture.Sunflower Seeds is a total work made up of millions of individual pieces which together from a single unique surface. In order to maintain and preserve the landscape as a whole, Tate asks visitors not to touch or remove the sunflower seeds.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 above. Each piece is a part of the whole, a commentary on the relationship between the individual and the masses. The work continues to pose challenging questions: What does it mean to be an individual in today's society? Are we insignificant or powerless unless we act together? What do our increasing desires, materialism and number mean for society, the environment and the future?"Update: 28 April 2011We understand from news reports that the artist Ai Weiwei was arrested by the Chinese authorities on Sunday 3 April as he tried to board a plane to Hong Kong. The artist remains uncontactable and his whereabouts are unknown. We are dismayed by developments that again threaten Ai Weiwei's right to speak freely as an artist and hope that he will be released immediately.In response to Ai Weiwei's arrest and detainment, leading museums around the world have joined and launched an online petition to express concern for Ai's freedom and call for his release, including Guggenheim Museum; the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD); Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate, London; Gwangju Biennale, Korea; and the Musée national d'art moderne/Centre de créationindustrielle, Paris. We sincerely hope that our collective action using social networking sites - Ai Weiwei's favored medium of social sculpture - will promote Ai's liberty and the principle of free creative expression.To sign the museums' petition visit www.change.orgUpdate 22 June 2011We are pleased to hear that Ai Weiwei has been released on bail and has returned home. We await further details regarding his situation, his well-being and that of his associates
Art in the 3rd Dimension: Sculpture Reading: Artforms, 162-188 Terms/Concepts: relief, high relief, low relief, bas relief, sunken relief, additive, subtractive, modeling, casting, carving, assembled/constructed sculpture, assemblage, kinetic sculpture, mixed media, plasticity, installation, site-specific, ceramics, potter, firing, earthenware, kaolin, stoneware, throwing, slip, glaze.
Site Specific Richard Serra, Tilted Arc, Federal Plaza, New York City, 1981.
Danny Katz: "Arrogant position that art justifies interference with the simple joys of human activity in the plaza.This is not a great plaza by international standards, but a small refuge and place of revival for people who ride to work in steel containers, work in sealed rooms (with no windows) and breathe recirculated air all day. Is the purpose of art to stress the absence of joy and hope? I can't believe this was the artistic intention, yet sadly this has been the dominant effect of the work (It is arguable that "stressing the absence of joy and hope" was part of Serra's purpose, as interpreted by Horowitz )...I can accept anything in art, but I can't accept physical assault and complete destruction of ordinary human activity...no work of art created with a contempt of ordinary humanity and w/o respect for the common element of human experience can be great...I suggest Mr. Serra take advantage of this opportunity to walk away from this fiasco and move the work to a place where it will better reveal its beauty.” Richard Serra, Tilted Arc, Federal Plaza, New York City, 1981.
Serra: To remove Tilted Arc would be to destroy it
To move it is to destroy it as it was designed for that site
I don't make portable objects that can be relocated
Make works that deal with env. components of given places
Scale, size location of site specific works are determine by the characteristics of the site
Works become part of and built into structure of site and often restructure it both conceptually and perceptually
Richard Serra, Tilted Arc, Steel Federal Plaza, New York City, 1981.