It took me a while to go to Tate Britain to see the "Sunflower Seeds". I guess I was slightly worried that I would be disappointed, that it would strike me as too simple. Last summer before our wedding we were given a box set signed by Ai Weiwei called "Becoming" with 147 photos of the process of building the Bejing airport. Pictures that I treasure highly, every single photo has a beautiful composition. I did not want to loose this feeling.
"The Sunflower Seeds" at the Tate Modern is a minimalist piece, stripped down to its most bare features, something that can be difficult to have an emotional feeling about.
But, like Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (the architect) said "LESS IS MORE".... and like here it comes true.
When you begin to watch the film behind the porcelain seeds you find that you begin to live with the piece and sense the importance today, and the significance Sunflower Seeds has had in Chinese history and culture.
Ai Weiwei based his porcelain production in Jungdezhen, a town that previously made porcelain for the Emperors court. Here he employed 1600 men and women to be part of the 25 stages that porcelain has. The whole town had some sort of involvement in the process or at least new of someone who did. Ai Weiwei says at the end of the film that he actually wishes he could come up with another project to do there, especially since the people were so sweet and grateful for the jobs.
"Sunflowers supported the whole revolution, spiritually and in material ways"
To Ai Weiwei LIFE IS ART, politics and exchange. The act of individual voicing their opinions and communicating with one another is of great importance to Ai. He is passionate about speaking directly with people and sharing his artistic and political life through film, audio, text and images.
Ai Weiwei's political messages was too much though for the Chinese government who reacted last fall with tearing down his studio in Shanghai.
The good thing about people like Ai Weiwei is that they will keep their smily brave face on and continue working. Ai said that he looked at the demolition as an Art Performance. Admirable!