Ai Weiwei: Sunflower Seeds @ Tate Modern

テート・モダンユニリーバ・シリーズ(The Unilever Series)の第11回作品が、中国人コンセプチュアル・アーティストで文化評論家・社会評論家でもある、艾未未 (アイ・ウェイウェイ)の「Sunflower Seeds(ヒマワリの種)」が、テート・モダンで展示中だ(10月12日〜翌5月2日。昨年の作品についてはここを参照)。会場であるTurbine Hall(タービン・ホール)の床一面に、約10cm程の厚みで敷き詰められた、1億個!ものポーセリン(磁器)製のヒマワリの種は、1,600人以上の景徳鎮の職人たちが、2年がかりで手作りした。手に取って見てみると本物そっくり。よく出来ている。来場者はそれぞれ、歩き回ったり、座ったり、手に取って感触を確かめたり、歩く度にたてるサクッサクッという繊細な音を楽しんでいる。最初は上を歩いたりすると、割れたり壊れたりしそうで恐る恐るだったけれど、やっぱり磁器製だけあって丈夫だ。




A Chinese conceptual artist and an outspoken cultural and social commentator, Ai Weiwei‘s “Sunflower Seeds” is selected for the eleventh commission in the Unilever Series at Tate Modern (October 12 –  May 2,  2011. Check here for last year’s exhibition). The Turbine Hall where hosts the show is covered by 100 million individually handmade porcelain sunflower seeds by over 1,600 craftsmen in Jingdezhen taking about two years, about 10cm deep. When I picked some of them up and saw up-close, these looked incredibly realistic. Visitors enjoyed walking and sitting on the top, touching them, and listening the delicate sounds the the seeds make with every step. At the beginning, I was scared to walk on the top of them that look fragile, but the porcelain seeds are quite strong and don’t break easily.

For Ai Weiwei, Sunflower seeds are almost the only food to eat that even in the Mao Zedong‘s notorious social-political programs, such as the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. Also in the propaganda during the Cultural Revolution, Chairman Mao was represented as the Sun with the Chinese people as sunflowers turning their faces toward him. The handmade sunflower seeds are metaphors for people who are all unique and different.

Ai Weiwei is also known with his bold political comments and activities which often cause trouble with the Chinese authority. He was the artistic consultant for design, collaborating with the Herzog & de Meuron, for the “Bird’s Nest” Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Summer Olympics, but he later distanced himself from the project, because he thought that Olympics were just political propaganda and he was disappointed. He also involved in an investigation into student casualties in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, that aimed to compile a list of students killed in the earthquake, and wrote in his blog which was later shut down. He was beaten by the police for trying to testify for a fellow investigator of the shoddy construction and student casualties in the earthquake, and later had an emergency brain surgery in Germany for cerebral hemorrhage which is believed to be linked to the police attack. According to the Financial Times, in an attempt to force Ai to leave the country, two of his accounts had been hacked; his bank accounts were investigated by state security agents who claimed he was under investigation for “unspecified suspected crimes”. Just after this year’s Nobel peace prize was awarded to Chinese human right activist Liu Xiaobo and this caused an outrage of Chinese government, I really hope that Ai’s Tate exhibition wouldn’t let China put more pressure on him or other fellow activists.

* According to today’s BBC news, visitors have been banned from walking on the top of seeds, due to a greater than expected level of dust created by the interaction with visitors, which could be damaging to health following repeated inhalation over a long period of time.

会場内で偶然アイ・ウェイウェイ氏を発見 / I happened to see Mr. Ai Weiwei in the Turbine Hall.

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2 responses to “Ai Weiwei: Sunflower Seeds @ Tate Modern

  1. Pingback: i-Japaneeds | ver. Patina » ひまわりの種

  2. Pingback: i-Japaneeds | ver. Patina » ひまわりの種

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