15 October 2010

Sunflower Seeds Deemed a Public Health Threat

Furrowed brows and gritted teeth over t London’s Tate Modern museum. Just a few days after opening Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s marvellous installation – named simply Sunflower Seeds – has been closed down due to health concerns.

Only a short time after the one hundred million sunflower seeds made from porcelain, each one hand-painted, were installed in the museum’s Turbine Hall, curators began to notice ceramic dust (which is extremely unhealthy when breathed in) hovering over the work.

The museum decided that the risks presented by this dust were just too great. The public had been encouraged to walk, skip, dance and lie on the seeds and the museum faced potentially hundreds of litigious culture lovers with lung damage in the future. A no brainer ensued – bring the installation to an extremely untimely end.

It is a great shame – the installation had proven an instant hit and was one of the most anticipated works to have been displayed at the museum for years. Ai Weiwei who is considered a dissident by the Chinese government, must be absolutely beside himself as the installation took several years of planning to bring to fruition.

The museum has released a statement saying that in no way shape or form was the decision made to close the installation because of pressure from the Chinese government. If that was the case then they should not have sought to quash the rumor – but to just let it lie. This sounds like protesting a little too much.

So, farewell, Sunflower Seeds. Such a shame. You were beautiful.