Ai Weiwei is one of the most popular Chinese artists of our time. For Tate Modern’s The Unilever Series he has been commissioned to produce a new work. The sculptural installation titled Sunflower Seeds looks rather minimalistic at first sight. What seems to be an ocean of sunflower seed husks, is in reality a flat landscape of over 100 million individually handmade porcelain replicas of the seed.
Visitors are invited to walk across the surface of the work. It’s a sensory and immersive installation, which visitors can touch, walk on and listen to as the seeds shift beneath their feet.
Although they look identical from a distance, every seed is different and handcrafted by skilled artisans. Sunflower Seeds is the largest work Ai Weiwei has made using porcelain, one of China’s most prized exports. Previously Ai has created imitation fruit, clothes and vases. Sunflower Seeds weighs over 150 metric tons, covering 1000 square meters of the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.
Ai Weiwei was born in 1957 in Beijing, China, where he lives and works. He has exhibited internationally, including recent solo shows at Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, and Haus der Kunst, Munich. He has participated in the Sao Paulo Biennial, Documenta 12 in Kassel, and Tate Liverpool. Ai Weiwei also founded the design company Fake Design and co-founded the China Art Archives and Warehouse in Beijing.