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Ai Weiwei Sunflower Seeds handkerchief

Third Drawer Down

Availability: In stock



100% Lawn Cotton with handrolled edges

Size: 40cm x 40cm

Sunflower Seeds was an installation made up of ten million unique porcelain sunflower seeds. However realistic they may seem, these life-sized sunflower seed husks are in fact intricately hand-crafted in porcelain. 

Each seed has been individually sculpted and painted by specialists working in small-scale workshops in the Chinese city of Jingdezhen. Far from being industrially produced, they are the effort of hundreds of skilled hands. The seeds were displayed at Tate Modern Turbine Hall’s vast industrial space, the 100 million seeds formed a seemingly infinite landscape.

Porcelain is almost synonymous with China and, to make this work, Ai Weiwei has manipulated traditional methods of crafting what has historically been one of China’s most prized exports. Sunflower Seeds invites us to look more closely at the ‘Made in China’ phenomenon and the geo-politics of cultural and economic exchange today.

Ai Weiwei is an artist and a social activist. His work encompasses diverse fields including fine arts, curating, architecture, and social criticism. Born in Beijing in 1957, he moved to Xinjiang with his family between 1960 and 1976. Subsequently he relocated to the United States in 1981 and lived there until 1993. He currently resides and works in Beijing.

On April 3, 2011, Ai was secretly detained by the police for 81 days upon fabricated tax charges at the Beijing Capital International Airport. Although the bail was lifted after a year, the authorities have not returned his passport and he remains prohibited from travelling outside China.

Major solo exhibitions include Ai Weiwei: According to What?, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C. (2012), Ai Weiwei: Absent, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan (2011), The Unilever Series: Ai Weiwei, Tate Modern, London, UK (2010), So Sorry, Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany (2009) and was selected as Honorary Academician at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK in 2011.

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Artist / Author Third Drawer Down