The Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei, challenges our first impressions with his installation Sunflower Seeds: 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 at Tate Modern, the seeds form a seemingly infinite landscape. The precious nature of the material, the effort of production and the narrative and personal content create a powerful commentary on the human condition.