Made in China: Ai Weiwei at Tate Modern

The week of art insanity that invariably surrounds the Frieze Art Fair began by walking through a sea of sunflower seeds for Tate Modern’s latest commission in The Unilever Series, Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds. The millions (seemingly billions) of individually hand-painted porcelain sunflower seeds that have been poured into Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall nicely counteract the larger-than-life installations and sculptures usually featured in this massive space. Though expansive, the diminutive objects create a personal feel and intimate experience. Walking through the work is like walking through sand, difficult and satisfying. Though seemingly mass-produced each ‘seed’ has been sculpted and painted by hundreds of crafts people in workshops in Jingdezhen, China. With Sunflower Seeds, Weiwei challenges our immediate cynical notions of production and commodity, particularly in a conceptual art context, by valuing the artistic hand and by allowing us to literally walk all over unique objects.

This is the first of a series of posts surrounding art exhibitions and the like during London’s Frieze Art Fair. Stay tuned.

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