October 15, 2010

Ai Weiwei Not A Highway


It's been a long, black & white streak here at Daddy Types the last day or two. But this story has some international color.

That grey beach those two darling British moppets are frolicking on is actually an artwork, 100 million hand-painted porcelain sunflower seeds, installed by the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei in Tate Modern's Turbine Hall.

In the moppet-filled slideshow accompanying Adrian Searle's ecstatic review Monday, the Guardian wrote, " Visitors will be encouraged to walk across the installation and pick the seeds up - but not to steal them...They will even be allowed to lie down, should they choose ..."

Making the piece took years, during which time Ai employed some 300 skilled craftsmen in Jingdezhen, the "porcelain capital" of China for almost 2,000 years.

Which is adorable to remember, now that Tate Modern and British health officials have closed off the carpet of sunflower seeds because walking on it produces a "greater than expected level" of ceramic dust, which *cough cough* "could be damaging to health following repeated inhalation over a long period of time."

Update: So it turns out the NY Times--or at least Times art critic Roberta Smith--totally knew this would happen, and yet they kept quiet. Why?

I merely commented to my husband, as we looked down from the bridge a few days earlier, that the piece looked like an upper-respiratory disaster waiting to happen.

Tate Modern's sunflower seeds: the world in the palm of your hand [guardian.co.uk]
Tate Modern Closes Access to 'Sunflower Seeds' [nyt]

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