100 million fake sunflower seeds removed from museum

The exhibit of Ai Weiwei's 100 million hand-made porcelain sunflower seeds at the Tate has been shut down due to noxious ceramic dust. (Via Kristi Lu Stout)


  1. Wow. Could almost be part of the display. The dangers of synthetic rather than natural goods. The cost of cheap manufacturing. The massive amount of effort and danger that Chinese labourers endure for our convenience or whimsy.

    Seems to underline every point of the exhibit, and simultaneously render the whole thing even more foolish.

  2. What a great idea. Get 200 workers to paint tiny rocks for years. It’s only impressive because of the sheer effort required, not because of artistic skill. What a waste of resources.

    1. Artistic skill counts for nothing if the art cannot invoke ideas or emotions in the viewer, it’ll just be another pretty thing that sits in a hall.

      Also, the peasants who made the seeds were provided with jobs when their village/town’s economy was tanking. Chew on that for awhile.

      1. Also, the peasants who made the seeds were provided with jobs when their village/town’s economy was tanking. Chew on that for awhile.

        Is this true? Qualify yourself.

        I couldn’t help but laugh when I read this post. So with those jobs the poor, unemployed ‘peasants’ got painting these things… I suppose they were also provided with adequate respiratory gear to protect them from the noxious ceramic dust? Yeah right.

        Ooops, I forgot… the Chinese have superpowers that render them impervious to all the niggling concerns us Westerners have. That’s why they can work impossibly long hours for incredibly low wages, you see.

  3. I cannot help but think that this was intentional, although I know artists often don’t really think things through in their practical implications. Even if not, it really adds to the impact of the art.

  4. A relative of mine is a specialist in occupational safety specialising in airborne dusts and aerosols. He categorically states there is no risk from the dust from these to the public.

    It’s yet another case of idiotic middle management banning things, and then hiding behind the false wall of ‘health and safety’. This sort of thing is not enshrined in any law, and is only enforced because people actually in charge don’t have the temerity to oppose it.

    You are allowed to challenge safety precautions people!

  5. The irony of it all is probably greater than the art itself. Despite spending the time required to replace natural seeds, it has become the very reason it is closed.

  6. That’s the problem with conceptual art: too much emphasis on concept, no thought for EU Health and Safety rules.

    I popped by the Tate on Friday and they’d just roped it off. Everyone behind it was disappointed…many because they couldn’t steal any of the seeds as the Guardian had promised.

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