The Unilever Series: Ai Weiwei, Sunflower Seeds 2010.Photocredit: Tate Photography © Ai Weiwei
The sunflower seeds in the photo above are made of porcelain. Each of them was sculpted by hand and painted by craftspeople in a Chinese city.
Ai Weiwei, one of China’s leading Conceptual artists and an outspoken cultural and social commentator, has undertaken the eleventh commission in The Unilever Series.
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. Sunflower Seeds is a sensory and immersive installation, which we can touch, walk on and listen to as the seeds shift under our feet. The casual act of walking on the work’s surface contrasts with the immense effort of production and the precious nature of the material. 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.
What do 100 million hand painted fake sunflower seeds look like? (Via Steve Silberman)
I was honored to be invited to contribute to the New York Times's excellent "Op-Eds From the Future" series (previously), with an op-ed called "I Shouldn't Have to Publish This in The New York Times," set in the near-future, in which we have decided to solve the problems of Big Tech by making them liable […]
Bernie Sanders's latest campaign promise is a proposal to forgive all outstanding US student debt, and raising the $2.2 trillion needed over a decade to make lenders whole by taxing Wall Street speculators with a 0.5% tax on stock trades, a 0.1% fee on bonds, and a 0.005% fee on derivatives.
The Rebels sure got their asses kicked on Hoth. Can you do better? Give it a try with the LEGO Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Echo Base Defense kit. Luckily Luke gets out of the bacta-tank just in time. Now it is your turn to defend the base with useless canon and watch as […]
Looking for a new tablet? If you haven’t upgraded in a while, it might be time to check out the latest iPad Pro for two very good reasons. First, the 2018 model is a real workhorse. The 12X Bionic chip processor means it can handle any task you set out for it, and still have […]
You want wireless earbuds to make an impact on your mood and workout, not the environment. If that’s the case, we’ve got a new contender for AirPod market share: Brio Phantom X7 True Wireless Earbuds. The features on these tiny, comfortable buds are impressive even without the environmental angle. Their Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity is good […]
We don’t ask for much out of our charging cables: Juice up our phone, do it fast and don’t break. It’s supposed to be simple, but keeping your phone plugged in for the night – as most of us do – can actually degrade the life of your battery by overheating it. That’s why one […]