My birthday present this year from Nancy was something I was thrilled to get: some Ai Weiwei Sunflower seeds. Earlier this year I saw this fascinating documentary (now on YouTube) about this unique Chinese modern artist and social/political critic (Ai Weiwei on wikipedia).
I was captivated by his Sunflower Seeds installation at the Tate Modern in London when it was presented in film. The use of millions of Chinese porcelan sunflower seeds, craftsman produced and each unique, brilliantly captures our conflicting views of China and it's people. My description doesn't really do the exhibition justice. Here is an excerpt from the Tate's interpretation text:
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 precious nature of the material, the effort of production and the narrative and personal content make this work a powerful commentary on the human condition.
I was surprised to see that many of the seeds are available for purchase after the close of the exhibition. I mentioned that to Nancy and the rest is birthday history. It is great to have a few little pieces of this monumental installation.