Torea Frey

Editor, writer, photographer, observer on the street.

Ai Weiwei's sunflower seeds

As part of the Tate Modern's Unilever series, Ai Weiwei (or a cohort of Chinese artists under his aegis) has painted more than 100 million porcelain bits to look like sunflower seeds. The exhibit runs through May 2, 2011. From the Tate's note on interpretation of the work:

Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds challenges our first impressions: what you see is not what you see, and what you see is not what it means. The sculptural installation is made up of what appear to be millions of sunflower seed husks, apparently identical but actually unique. Although they look realistic, each seed is made out of porcelain. And far from being industrially produced, 'readymade' or found objects, they have been intricately hand-crafted by hundreds of skilled artisans. Poured into the interior of the Turbine Hall's vast industrial space, the seeds form a seemingly infinite landscape. The casual act of walking on its surface contrasts with the precious nature of the material, the effort of production and the narrative and personal content that make this work a powerful commentary on the human condition.

For bonus points, read Evan Osnos's profile of the artist, "It's Not Beautiful," from the May 24, 2010, issue of the New Yorker.