Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Two years to hand paint 100 million pieces of porcelain… time well spent? By Matt F

Two years to hand paint 100 million pieces of porcelain to make them look like sunflower seeds. Tip them onto the floor of the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern and get the public to wander around on them – Turner Prize? Or Turnips n’ rice?

Well, I bet Ai WeiWei, China’s answer to Andy Warhol, is a bit gutted as he couldn’t have known that such was the enthusiasm for such a dynamic and interesting installation (who are these people?) it would cause a harmful toxic cloud to gather only days after its opening, rendering it utterly futile – I mean, it was tenuous at best, before they had to stop people walking on it…

Now you can only view it from about 50 ft away, from the gallery above – which kind of makes it look like Brighton beach. In fact, these pebbles would look great on my terrace, but a provocative art installation? I’m not sure about that.

I appreciate you can’t expect it to stand up now that you can’t experience the installation as the artist intended, but I’m sorry, this is still hand painted gravel tipped on the floor of a room.

Is it really worth the effort?

I get it - it’s a symbol of the mass production that is taken for granted – you see it as a single material rather than each individual seed hand carved by a Chinese artisan. I just think it’s still a load of cobblers - whichever way you look at it, or walk on it - or not as it happens…

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