Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Ai Weiwei

Tate Modern is worth a look in at the moment. 

Gauguin is of course showing there, however I can't tell you anything other that what I learnt at school about him, as tickets are for timed showings, and we couldn't wait around for a couple of hours. ( Those wanting to go, book a few days in advance online here.)

However what did delight was Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds, over 100 million seeds spread across the floor of the Turpentine Hall. They have cordoned it off so the public can not crunch their way across it, as intended, but it still didn't disappoint. You could sit on its vast perimeter and play with the seeds from the vast carpet that you could reach. 

When you look at it as a whole, you are unsure what it is, and then as you look closer and touch the seeds you can see that each seed has been handmade by an artisan, rather that being mass produced, Ai Weiwei has relied on the knowledge and ancient craftsmanship of the people from the city of Jingdezhen, who supplied Imperial porcelain.

Ai Weiwei talks about growing up in China everyone was so poor, that a sunflower seed was a treat in your pocket, to share with friends. Sunflowers also have cultural bearing too, during Mao Zedong's revolution Chairman Mao was portrayed as the sun, and the masses of people where sunflowers turning towards him. Ai Weiwei remembers the sharing of sunflowers a gesture of human compassion, providing a space for pleasure, friendship and kindness, during a time of extreme poverty, repression and uncertainty.

You can also leave a video message for Ai Weiwei in a sectioned off area of the hall, he will select some to answer which will be broadcasted on the Tate website each month.

If you have a few minutes spare, I urge you to watch this wonderful video he made for the Tate Modern, showing the making of the Sunflower Seeds. 

It gives another meaning to the label 'Made in China'.

Showing until 2nd May 2011.

Go see!!!