Join 3,430 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


One Hundred Million Seeds of Porcelain Contemplation
October 13, 2010 1:59 PM   Subscribe

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s latest installation: one hundred million hand-painted pieces of porcelain that resemble the shells of sunflower seeds.
posted by Rory Marinich (90 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite

 
You have got to be fucking kidding me. Shit. Now I have to go to London.
posted by The Bellman at 2:01 PM on October 13, 2010


Just in time for some nefarious dentist to sneak these into Halloween treats.
posted by exogenous at 2:03 PM on October 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Whoah.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 2:03 PM on October 13, 2010


brilliant. I love how they look like a bunch of gray pebbles until you get up close and see that each one is lined and has its own uniqueHOLY SHIT MEANING
posted by Think_Long at 2:08 PM on October 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


At one per second that we take over three man-years to finish. Though I suspect it takes longer than 1 second to paint them...
posted by jeffamaphone at 2:08 PM on October 13, 2010


How?
posted by TwelveTwo at 2:08 PM on October 13, 2010


"were you tempted to put any real sunflower seeds in there?"

"no."

"none at all? Not even one?"

"no."

"come onnn, how many?"
posted by boo_radley at 2:09 PM on October 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Birds hate that guy.
posted by heatvision at 2:10 PM on October 13, 2010 [19 favorites]


I'll be there tomorrow evening. I must say...it is difficult to imagine how one would resist bringing a few back in your pocket...
posted by vacapinta at 2:10 PM on October 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I would totally steal one. Maybe the 100,000,000 figure includes 10% for loss.
posted by fatbird at 2:11 PM on October 13, 2010


How?

Like this
posted by ecurtz at 2:11 PM on October 13, 2010 [8 favorites]


I sneered when I saw this, but after seeing the pictures, I am in utter and complete awe. What a great piece!
posted by nomadicink at 2:12 PM on October 13, 2010


While this is clearly a stunning technical accomplishment, I wonder how necessary the artist's own contextualization of the work is necessary to "reading" the work.

One thing that is interesting to me is that the work forces you to experience it in person. That's the only way to see the key feature of the work, namely that it isn't made of sunflower seeds but something else painted to look like them. In other words, if you see it in a photo (as we are here) or on a TV show, a key dimension of the work disappears - sunflower seeds and things that are painted to look like them are exactly the same thing in a photograph - they are both things that look like sunflower seeds.
posted by Pastabagel at 2:13 PM on October 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


What a coincidence! I am just getting started on my project to make hundreds of handpainted porcelain hamsters.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 2:14 PM on October 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


it is difficult to imagine how one would resist bringing a few back in your pocket

That's almost certainly okay. They break. They get taken home. They degrade. They exist in an environment in which those things happen. Impermanence is part of it. (See, also, Félix González-Torres, particularly the candy installations.)
posted by The Bellman at 2:19 PM on October 13, 2010


I have no words. That's simply amazing. I guess I could say I'm shell-shocked.
posted by chavenet at 2:21 PM on October 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


I wonder how necessary the artist's own contextualization of the work is necessary to "reading" the work.

I sent the link to someone and we were arguing about that. They were all "What the fuck, why not just use real seeds?" I was like "Yeah, but these are hand painted, someone created these things, don't you think this is what a god might feel like, walking among his creations, doesn't it echo that the fact that everything, EVERYTHING we touch and see through the course of a day, let alone our life has a life of its own?" and then they got all "What, are fucking high?"
posted by nomadicink at 2:21 PM on October 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


This video is really, really good. just amazing.
posted by kuatto at 2:26 PM on October 13, 2010 [12 favorites]


I'll be there tomorrow evening. I must say...it is difficult to imagine how one would resist bringing a few back in your pocket...

Nah, I'll be the one bringing in a bag of real seeds and scattering them around the room.
posted by blue_beetle at 2:28 PM on October 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


The video that ecurtz and kuatto link should really be seen.
posted by fatbird at 2:35 PM on October 13, 2010


I've started a similar project, and I need your help! My project is hand painted borders on $5s, $10s or $20s. Make sure you paint the outer 1/8th of a centimeter on the back only. Points will be given for creativity, originality, and quantity! Make it a family event and have everyone create a border. Throw a block party! Invite your coworkers to participate. The final currency total is yet to be determined, but I too am aiming to collect one hundred million hand-painted American bills. Come on people, we can do this! Let's go team metafilter!

Address is in my profile.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:37 PM on October 13, 2010 [7 favorites]


Please report back about it after you go. Sadly, I don't think my budget allows for spontaneous trips to the other side of the pond. But this is an absolutely lovely work. I would love to hear how it feels in person.
posted by stoneweaver at 2:40 PM on October 13, 2010


It's fascinating how many works these days involve huge quantities of production and of waste - just as it's becoming obvious that we're running out of resources.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:46 PM on October 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


I just love art.
posted by The Whelk at 2:46 PM on October 13, 2010


If I were the exhibitor I'd invite a few of the people who crafted these seeds to the exhibition. I imagine it's rather puzzling to be painting thousands of these things; but to see the final result, to feel the soft crunch under your feet and relate it to your experience of making them, may be quite the feeling.

Or they may just shrug and enjoy a free trip to London. Either way, win/win.
posted by Pantalaimon at 2:54 PM on October 13, 2010


!Damn, the one year I'm not going to London in the fall and a show like this happens.
posted by Liquidwolf at 2:57 PM on October 13, 2010


the video was really heartwarming. i remember an LA Times article about the artist' activism earlier this year.
posted by sawdustbear at 3:00 PM on October 13, 2010


In Ai's own words: It's a work about mass production and repeatedly accumulating the small effort of individuals to become a massive, useless piece of work.

This makes me almost physically sick. It's a waste of human effort, of really, really hard human labour on an epic scale. In history, this kind of folly has only been possible under conditions of extreme economic inequality: Ancient Egypt, Versailles, Tsarist Russia...Imperial China, for that matter. Only under such conditions can you find people actually grateful to do such hard, mind-numbing work for such a useless outcome. An economic system that can reduce scores of people, each one an intelligent, potentially productive human being to a seed-painting machine, painting millions and millions of fake sunflower seeds for other people to walk on, such an economic system just can't be sustainable.

We are doomed.
posted by Skeptic at 3:06 PM on October 13, 2010 [13 favorites]


If an artist tells you what h/h work is "about", plug your ears; you will never hear anything that makes the work seem better, more interesting, or worthier, and you will often hear something that makes the whole thing seem faintly ridiculous at best.
posted by kenko at 3:12 PM on October 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


If I were the exhibitor I'd invite a few of the people who crafted these seeds to the exhibition. I imagine it's rather puzzling to be painting thousands of these things; but to see the final result, to feel the soft crunch under your feet and relate it to your experience of making them, may be quite the feeling.

Yes. I'd think of all the days and nights passed painting those seeds. One by one. Stroke by stroke. Carefully. Deliberately. To produce just a tiny little fraction of the whole total. And all for about as much money as a cup of espresso in the museum bar.

Then I'd go to my room and hang myself.
posted by Skeptic at 3:17 PM on October 13, 2010


And when I went to the Tate they had slides. Damnit.
posted by msbutah at 3:19 PM on October 13, 2010


The fact that this piece of work is provoking a conversation about economic inequality and the scarcity of resources among people who haven't even seen it means that it's effective. Art is meant to provoke. It's meant to make us sick in our souls. If it's not making us want to change, it is nothing more than decoration. Some art makes us want to change because of its overwhelming beauty, some through an ugly mirror. That sick feeling is good and meaningful. We should all be sick.
posted by stoneweaver at 3:20 PM on October 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


I don't know, stoneweaver, Paris Hilton has about the same effect on me. Is she a great artist, then?
posted by Skeptic at 3:23 PM on October 13, 2010


The Perfect Crime

London Police Officer: Scotland Yard sure picked a high-profile case to start the trans-Atlantic partnership. The victim was discovered in the South-West corner of the Tate Modern turbine hall, the morning the exhibition opened. No evidence of...Detective?

Detective Monk: They're not pointing the same way.

fin
posted by persona at 3:24 PM on October 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Wonderful. I had just heard about this from an artworld friend in London. Ai Weiwei is the real deal.
posted by R. Mutt at 3:26 PM on October 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow.

I saw this floating around the internets earlier today, and spent some time wishing that transporters existed, because damn, I'd love to get back to London to see this.
posted by rtha at 3:33 PM on October 13, 2010


For every one of those seeds, there are thirteen Chinese citizens. Eleven citizens of India. A family of Americans. Art uses simple things to explore difficult ideas, and to affect you in ways that logic never could.

There are 68 people on this planet for every one of those seeds. Sixty seven people with hopes, dreams, fears, loves, joys and tears. Go to London. Walk on the seeds. And perhaps, for a moment, understand the smallest fraction of humanity.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:35 PM on October 13, 2010


Art is meant to provoke. It's meant to make us sick in our souls.

This is exactly the kind of installation art that makes me feel, for a passing moment, what it juuust might feel like to be a Republican.
posted by applemeat at 3:38 PM on October 13, 2010


Interesting to watch the video and learn about the connection between sunflowers and Mao. (He was frequently (always?) depicted surrounded by sunflowers - he was the sun, and the Chinese people were the sunflowers.) Although I am fairly well educated for an American, I did not know that. It adds an entirely new perspective on this work.
posted by stoneweaver at 3:40 PM on October 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


To produce just a tiny little fraction of the whole total. And all for about as much money as a cup of espresso in the museum bar.

What is it you are typing your comments on?

A computer, while useful (for certain definitions of useful, of course), is such an everyday object that you can use it 20 hours a day without thinking of the people in factories in, say, China, who spend all day every day producing a tiny little fraction of the whole total.

These sunflower seeds are both beautiful and provocative. They are also, functionally, useless. And they are much more valuable than the computers we are typing on.
posted by rtha at 3:40 PM on October 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Art is meant to provoke. It's meant to make us sick in our souls. If it's not making us want to change, it is nothing more than decoration. Some art makes us want to change because of its overwhelming beauty, some through an ugly mirror. That sick feeling is good and meaningful. We should all be sick.

I'm not sure yet what I think about Ai Weiwei's piece, but this could just as easily be applied to the jackasses who pulled this shitty stunt.
posted by kmz at 3:44 PM on October 13, 2010


If I could write a short, compelling argument for why some things are art and other things are just shitty stunts, I would be making a lot of money for being like the best art critic evar. As it is, I am merely the daughter of an artist who spends a lot of time contemplating it. To me, Paris Hilton isn't trying to do art, and that's important. Just being a consumer isn't art. I've got nothing for the 101 freeway stunt. Because I just can't wrap my head around people thinking that's a good plan.
posted by stoneweaver at 3:53 PM on October 13, 2010


It's horrible that these people have so little, but for a few years, they had jobs to go to, that allowed them to be with their families instead of in Beijing. And Unilever funded that, because Ai decided to call it art. And the art is beautiful, and will make thousands of people aware of a village they didn't know existed.
posted by freshwater at 3:53 PM on October 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


A computer, while useful (for certain definitions of useful, of course), is such an everyday object that you can use it 20 hours a day without thinking of the people in factories in, say, China, who spend all day every day producing a tiny little fraction of the whole total.

Oh, don't take me wrong. What sickens me isn't this particular art installation per se. It has certainly helped feed quite a few Chinese families. But it's the circumstances that have made it possible, just as, indeed, the computer I'm typing on, and the many electronic gadgets which I do enormously enjoy. This only brings more clearly to my mind the enormous imbalance on which all this is based.

Also, I find it depressing that even in such a hand-wringing collective as Metafilter, most reactions haven't been of sudden awareness of the labour behind this installation, but rather: "OOOH KEWL".
posted by Skeptic at 3:54 PM on October 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hungry now.
posted by PuppyCat at 4:07 PM on October 13, 2010


I love this.

This is art that operates on a lot of different levels - it's tactile, it's calm and malleable and everchanging, it confronts the viewer with numbers that are impossible to imagine without actually seeing them, and it has a political message - Weiwei chose the sunflower because it's almost overtly political in China and then used cheap mass production (China's strength, in his words)to produce something unique and thoughtful (China's weakness, in his words). I think it's very successful.

( I eat sunflower seeds while I work on the computer. I eat lots of sunflower seeds, and have eaten them for years. Before seeing this, if you had asked me if I'd eaten a hundred million sunflower seeds, I'd probably have said "at least". Now I'm not so sure.)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:09 PM on October 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, I find it depressing that even in such a hand-wringing collective as Metafilter, most reactions haven't been of sudden awareness of the labour behind this installation, but rather: "OOOH KEWL".

As someone who has taught studio art to both college kids and preschoolers, "OOOH KEWL" is a pretty good place to start a conversation.
posted by R. Mutt at 4:14 PM on October 13, 2010 [14 favorites]



The fact that this piece of work
Paris Hilton is provoking a conversation about economic inequality and the scarcity of resources among people who haven't even seen it her means that it she's effective. Art Paris Hilton is meant to provoke. It She's meant to make us sick in our souls. If it she's not making us want to change, it she is nothing more than decoration. Some art celebrities makes us want to change because of its their overwhelming beauty, some through an ugly mirror. That sick feeling is good and meaningful. We should all be sick.

See what I mean? It works! Paris Hilton is a real piece of art! Or at least a real piece of...something.
posted by Skeptic at 4:15 PM on October 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


"OOOH KEWL" is a pretty good place to start a conversation.

Consider it started. Now what?
posted by Skeptic at 4:18 PM on October 13, 2010


This is just amazing, really. That he was able to employ 1,600 people for years, keeping a traditional art alive in a region... All you people thinking that this was a useless endeavor are missing the point. It's Art, it made you think. It's Art, it created something from nothing.
posted by Catblack at 4:21 PM on October 13, 2010


"This makes me almost physically sick. It's a waste of human effort, of really, really hard human labour on an epic scale. In history, this kind of folly has only been possible under conditions of extreme economic inequality: Ancient Egypt, Versailles, Tsarist Russia...Imperial China, for that matter. Only under such conditions can you find people actually grateful to do such hard, mind-numbing work for such a useless outcome. An economic system that can reduce scores of people, each one an intelligent, potentially productive human being to a seed-painting machine, painting millions and millions of fake sunflower seeds for other people to walk on, such an economic system just can't be sustainable."

Well, first off, as I was watching the video, I was thinking about how so much art comes from surplus and the idea of empires as able to produce massive art (and the inherent anti-monumentality of this work in contrast to Imperial art, which I do tend to like). It's not a waste of effort — Ai's being paid, as are the workers, and the Tate gets a piece of art.

Second off, these aren't seed painting machines, that's kind of the point. It's using distributed labor to make many copies of a thing, but each will be individualized. If he'd wanted to do it truly assembly line, he could have.

Third, I kind of see this as the goal of civilization, or at least one of the goals: to have so much surplus that you can employ a lot of people (ideally at a decent wage, though I haven't done the conversions) to make something for a crazy scheme.

Fourth, and this may just be me, but I know plenty of people in the arts who already spend a lot of time doing hard work to make "useless" things, because they either enjoy it or cannot do so otherwise. Now, you can argue that this represents their individual choices to make art, but I think this piece is interesting, especially in a Chinese context, of harnessing groups to accomplish an individual vision.

I like it. I think it's pretty cool.
posted by klangklangston at 4:25 PM on October 13, 2010 [12 favorites]


"See what I mean? It works! Paris Hilton is a real piece of art! Or at least a real piece of...something."

Right on! Now, if only we had evidence that Paris Hilton was doing this intentionally.
posted by klangklangston at 4:36 PM on October 13, 2010


doing hard work to make "useless" things

Seriously, more man-hours have been spent leveling up in Modern Warfare 2 than were spent painting those seeds. At the very least, it produced a pretty powerful work of art.
posted by graventy at 5:11 PM on October 13, 2010 [8 favorites]


Now, if only we had evidence that Paris Hilton was doing this intentionally.

Bingo.
posted by stoneweaver at 5:18 PM on October 13, 2010


When I was watching the setup for this the other day, I kept wondering whether the viewers would be able to walk on them or not. Now that I've learned more about the work I'm only getting more and more excited for the level at which people will be taking seeds out of the museum.
posted by _superconductor at 5:21 PM on October 13, 2010


Consider it started. Now what?

Well, have you been reading the thread?

most reactions haven't been of sudden awareness of the labour behind this installation, but rather: "OOOH KEWL".

To me, this is what makes this installation art rather than propaganda. (Not that you can't have both in one thing, and not that propaganda doesn't have value.) The initial reaction is "OOOH KEWL" but for most people in this thread, that does not seem to be the be-all and end-all of reactions.

Response to art is often a very visceral thing. It is often (initially, at least) a very not-beanplating thing. The first time I saw a piece of ancient Roman sculpture, the first thing that leapt to mind was not the slaves who had undoubtedly dug the marble out of the ground; was that the wrong response?
posted by rtha at 5:37 PM on October 13, 2010


Is each porcelain seed individually signed by the artist?
posted by Wet Spot at 6:07 PM on October 13, 2010


Right on! Now, if only we had evidence that Paris Hilton was doing this intentionally.

I remember reading an article about how Paris would change into a dress just to go shopping in the morning, then change into another one to pose somewhere else in the day, so that paparazzi had a hell of a lot of photos of her.

I don't like the culture she created, but she was born rich enough that she never had to do a thing in her life, and she did something anyway, very cleverly, and as a result got to be in movies and make clothes or whatever it is she does. And every time I've heard her talk, which admittedly isn't often, she sounds self-aware and clever. So, eh, I'm a fan of her.

I'd rather have a world so well-off that everybody was free to loaf and to create huge enormous things for no reason other than to make them. We don't have that world, granted, and ours is really horribly imbalanced in a lot of ways, but it means that when I see an artist undertaking something ridiculously huge like this and paying a lot of people to do trivial things, I'll forgive him if the end result is sufficiently cool.

I also like artists talking about the meaning behind their art. No harm if their meaning is silly. I'm always free to pick my own meaning instead. Surprisingly, a lot of artists are actually intelligent human beings who think a lot about their art before making it. Just as surprisingly, a lot of people will dismiss those artists without listening to them talk. Perhaps they're jealous that artists have more fun than they do. Maybe they're just ignorant. Whichever. It's annoying, but luckily those people don't last long in the arts community.

(Disclaimer: I am an art student currently working with a photographer to take a lot of goofy photos for pretty much no reason, and I contribute very little to society.)
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:19 PM on October 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's a waste of human effort, of really, really hard human labour on an epic scale.

i think it's a point of privilege in the first world to romanticize and completely overvalue labor. There are LOT of people in the world, and most all of them spend their days doing something. It's not as if Best Buy couldn't keep it's shelves full because these 1600 chinese workers were busy making art for a few years.

If you ask me every factory in the world should be turned over to artists every now and then. "Sorry, nobody gets ipods next year, because we're using those workers to make enough glow in the dark marbles to give to every 8 year old on the planet"
posted by billyfleetwood at 7:12 PM on October 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


This conversation brought to you by Unilever.

(But besides that, this is fucken awesome and I want to go to London too...)
posted by Ahab at 7:38 PM on October 13, 2010


such an economic system just can't be sustainable

I'm going out on a limb but I think that's what this piece of art is about. Replace sunflower seeds with Nikes, or with the people forced to make them. Too obvious?
posted by chaff at 7:41 PM on October 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


I just love art.

Hmm. My reaction is just the opposite. I find most of what gets called art these days increasingly annoying. But then, as the years go by, I find most of what humans do increasingly annoying, so there's that.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:50 PM on October 13, 2010


*dances on stavrosthecurmudgeonlywonderchicken's lawn*
posted by rtha at 9:03 PM on October 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't know. There's plenty of art - good art! - out there that's nothing more than a demonstration of exemplary craftsmanship. And I think that's okay. Artists today put too much emphasis on art being meaningful, subversive, and an agent of change -- but this conception of art hasn't always been around, and has in fact appeared only fairly recently.
posted by archagon at 10:20 PM on October 13, 2010


I think what would be truly incredible is if Ai would split his commission entirely evenly amongst all of the workers who had a hand in this. Evenly. A truly democratic communist, community-driven piece of art.

One of the workers in the video mentions she earned between 2,000-3,000 RMB, or roughly $300-$450. At a purchasing power parity value of roughly 3:1, that ends up equaling about $900-$1,200...

No clue how many seeds that covered, but 100,000,000 seeds divided by 1,600 people (which is not necessarily the total number of *painters*, which was likely smaller, but rather the estimate for all involved) is 62,500 seeds per person. At 30 seconds a seed, which seems like a realistic (from watching the video), if not fixed, pace, that's 520 hours per person for 62,500 seeds. Or, you know, 13 work-weeks at 40 hours a week, which has little bearing here.

Dividing $1M over all 1,600 workers evenly yields $625 per worker, or 38% more than the $450 the worker mentioned at the upper end.

I always wonder what sort of commission the artist sees on something like this, or like Marina Abramović's The Artist is Present performance.

Some may argue that the artist deserves a greater fee, for it was his concept, management, execution, and delivery—something which none of the seed painters provided. But it would be a deliciously communist turn for him to divvy it right up, perfectly equally, amongst all who painted, poured, fired, packed, or shipped the seeds. (Naturally, some did more than others, and Ai arguably did the most, or perhaps least, of all of them, and that's where it all comes off the rails...)

As it stands, I'm excited that my trip to London early next year will occur when, I hope, some seeds are left. Ai mentioned in another article that he could definitely understand the temptation to steal seeds. And he wasn't wholly against it, either, leaving it up to the Tate Modern to actively discourage people from plundering these handcrafts micro works of art.
posted by disillusioned at 10:58 PM on October 13, 2010


"Artists today put too much emphasis on art being meaningful, subversive, and an agent of change -- but this conception of art hasn't always been around, and has in fact appeared only fairly recently."

Artists today? Eh. Art's always had an implicit element of social critique, just some artists emphasize that more than others. Other folks emphasize the craft — you can find that at any art fair, if you want to make another broad statement about "artists today."
posted by klangklangston at 11:04 PM on October 13, 2010


Interesting. Made me think about zen gardens.

And Minecraft players are not allowed to comment on the effort or point of all this!

/ Minecraft player...
posted by Harald74 at 12:42 AM on October 14, 2010


I work about ten minutes walk from Tate Modern, but seeing the video linked made me realise how much I need to go and see this in person.

I think for me the wonder of seeing all these items and understanding that each one is handpainted by a real person thousands of miles away is awe-inspiring. The amount of effort involved is amazing - and the results are both useless (practically) but incredibly important in terms of raising all sorts of issues.

Is it bad that a town that was lacking work spent several years making these? Is the relatively small amount of money each crafter was paid relevant? Were they exploited? Is it okay to steal a single seed from this exhibition if there are 100,000,000 of them?
posted by Stark at 2:16 AM on October 14, 2010


How is he the "artist" if other people did all the work?

Have I been sleeping? Has modern art turned into what they teach in MBA programs?
posted by hal_c_on at 4:20 AM on October 14, 2010


How is he the "artist" if other people did all the work?

Have I been sleeping? Has modern art turned into what they teach in MBA programs?


Yes, I'd say you have been sleeping.
posted by vacapinta at 4:47 AM on October 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I get so annoyed that architects don't place every brick and plate onto the building themselves. I mean, cmon who are they trying to fool?
posted by The Whelk at 8:48 AM on October 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm also lucky enough to be working a short walk away from the Tate Modern right now, and I went down to the exhibit during lunchtime the day after it opened. It really is amazing, and you've got to walk around in it and find a nice seed-bank to settle on for a while to watch others experience and interact with it to get the full effect. 

I did have to resist the urge to pocket a seed, but yeah, people are definitely pilfering from the art. In fact, just before I saw this thread, I was on my way back from lunch when I spotted two suspiciously familiar-looking seeds on the sidewalk a half-block from the office. Sure enough, they were not seeds, but art! They're sitting on my desk now but I'll return them soon. 

Another interesting bit about the exhibit is that they currently have stations set up with two-way video links so you can speak with the artist himself.

Anyway, I highly recommend checking it out, and I have a feeling I'll be spending a few lunch breaks hanging out in the Turbine Gallery in the near future!
posted by KatlaDragon at 9:39 AM on October 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


The installation is now closed.
posted by vacapinta at 11:57 AM on October 14, 2010


The seeds that find their way out of the Turbine Hall - I've already started planning my photography of this work around just that. Surely a few get carried out in the soles of people's shoes. The gallery spreading its seeds beyond its walls. There's a poem in that, too, somewhere. Where are they really meant to be, these seeds? Those people who made them?
posted by paperpete at 12:01 PM on October 14, 2010


The installation is now closed.

Well, damn.
posted by rtha at 12:03 PM on October 14, 2010


I have to say that when I saw dust being raised during the raking of the seeds at the Tate in the video posted upthread, a part of my mind said, "woah, that's porcelain dust, and that's not good for breathing." But then the backstory unfolded and I forgot all about it.

Anyway, damn.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:02 PM on October 14, 2010


kuatto, thank you for the video link. Mao is clearly much on the artist's mind, as the bargaining scene and his interview with the oldest seed-painter, (who clearly was in her best clothes, by the way,) - "Did you get to paint Chairman Mao?" demonstrated. Also there was an emphasis on how the porcelain production process has not changed over the past centuries. One the wall of one workshop, one slogan reads "Simplicity is Beauty."

I bought a lovely 3D porcelain flower pendant a while back from a street vendor in Beijing, and later found that these flowers are available via esty and ebay as well. People in Jingdezheng certainly are fine craftsmen.
posted by of strange foe at 1:14 PM on October 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


The installation is now closed.

Apparently due to dust from the porcelain. Silicosis worries, perhaps. I did notice that near the end of the video, people were wearing dust masks while raking the seeds.

I wonder if they can just spray water over them or something.
posted by exogenous at 1:41 PM on October 14, 2010


Aww, that's too bad -- although now that I think about it, I did notice the amount of dust in the air as I left and vaguely thought, 'that can't be good...'

It'll be interesting to see what happens. And now I think I just might keep the pair I found on the street as a mini-exhibit for those who missed out!
posted by KatlaDragon at 4:04 PM on October 14, 2010


Hmm...Health concerns about stuff imported from China. Is this all part of the extended metaphor?
posted by vacapinta at 4:07 PM on October 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yes.
posted by R. Mutt at 6:13 PM on October 14, 2010


I mean yes...when it is the health of those in the west...

The piece gets better by the minute.
posted by R. Mutt at 6:17 PM on October 14, 2010


I have a cat that likes to spend a lot of time fussing around in the litterbox. I'm sure she has dreams like that room.
posted by hydrophonic at 9:15 PM on October 14, 2010


I'm incredibly bummed that the piece isn't as...viscerally interactive, shall we say? I wanted to find a corner and sit and watch people, and actually touch the seeds and such.

I feel like this changes the meaning of the piece hugely, too, even if only for me. Now one can only look, and can see the whole, but it will be harder to make out the individuals pieces. And there's no interaction -- I won't be able to touch a piece that was painted by another human being.

(He should've called it METAPHORS-A-GO-GO.)
posted by kalimac at 7:19 AM on October 15, 2010


kalimac, I agree. I just wrote a lengthy email of complaint to Tate. It's health and safety gone mad. Warning signs and the exercise of free will would solve that issue. What is compounded is the whole fortunate, comfortable, free Westerners thing. Oh, a cough. How terrible.

Tate needs to sort out its whole attitude to the Turbine Hall commissions before it displays them, and not change its mind after exhibits open. It didn't rope off the crack, and it doesn't need to rope this off. Madness.
posted by paperpete at 12:35 PM on October 16, 2010


Ai Weiwei under arrest.
posted by vacapinta at 3:28 AM on November 5, 2010


Is there a place to mail sunflower seeds?
posted by klangklangston at 8:34 AM on November 5, 2010


Ai Weiwei under arrest.

I haven't been able to find any specific charges, just theorizing about it being related to his outspoken support of human rights. Is there anything more than that here? Has anyone been able to find more information out about the situation?
posted by stoneweaver at 10:06 AM on November 5, 2010


Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei Under House Arrest For Protest Party
posted by homunculus at 1:43 PM on November 5, 2010


China warns states not to support Nobel dissident: China has warned that there will be "consequences" if governments show support for jailed Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo at the award ceremony.
posted by homunculus at 1:44 PM on November 5, 2010


« Older Ask the atheist...  |  Fort Worth city councilman Joe... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments