Posts Tagged ‘sunflower seeds’

Blackpaint 206

October 13, 2010

Ai Weiwei in the Turbine Hall (cont.)

So I went up to the Tate Modern to see for myself.  I was wrong; it doesn’t look like a builder’s yard or a railway yard – it looks like a beach.  The place was full of couples with kids who’d obviously read the Guardian article and brought them there to play in the “sand”.  there was a cleared pathway of a couple of feet round it and a team of Tate young persons sweeping the escaping seeds back in.

The seeds are actually variable in a ppearance; some are dark grey, some lighter.  The hand painting consists of three or four strokes.  They feel like stones; some people were taking photos of them.  I spent five minutes, then went up to see Jorn and Kline and Mitchell and the others.  Did it make me think of Twitter, or crystallised labour (see Blackpaint 205)?  No – it made me think “There are 150 million of these seeds and they certainly look like 150 million; so there are a lot of people in China  – 7 or 8 times as many seeds”.  Incredibly shallow, but there you are. 

The trouble with conceptual art is that it often has to be explained to you, so that you get the right message.  Once you’ve got the message, that’s it, job done  – mostly, there’s nothing more.  With a painting, you can go back to it over and over again and get something from it.  I think only the Balka and the Eliasson have made me want to repeat the experience.

It occurs to me how difficult it must be to get these things into existence, how much persuasion and organisation….  I see them (the artists) as being a bit like old style entrepreneurs, Brunel, Carnegie.  Getting these seeds made reminds me of Francis Alys getting those students to shift the dune, or Tunick, or Vanessa Beecroft persuading large numbers of people to strip off for photographs.

Andrew Marr

Blogs are the “spewings and rantings of very drunk people late at night,” he says.  Right about that, anyway.

Yoshihara

Looked him up on google (see Bl. 205).  He’s done a lot of thick circles.  I like them.

Twombly

At Tate Modern, looked at Cy’s three big paintings of circular, arcing red paint.  I thought they were blood – but they’re called “Bacchus”; its wine.  Puts a different complexion on it.

Joan Jonas 

Next room to Twombly.  She did a children’s play at Whitechapel in the 70s and this is a video loop of the performance.  Terrifying – Japanese masks, blood.. Only thing I heard clearly was “Then she brought it down on his head!”  Costumes, props and lots of flags, red on white , white on red, like blood of course.

Natchez Burning

Another one gone

Blackpaint

13.10.10

Advertisements

Blackpaint 205

October 12, 2010

Has to be Ai Weiwei again today – his installation is now open it the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern.

Ai Weiwei – Sunflower Seeds

150 million porcelain seeds, each hand-painted, made by population of Jingdezhen, centre of historical porcelain industry in China, deposited in a huge slough on the floor of the hall.

In the Guardian photograph, it looks like a vast grey gravel or cinder bed – something in a builders or railway yard, laid down as a bed for sleepers.  Is it like a beach?

What does it mean?

Obvious meaning is crystallised labour.  According to the Marxist theory of value, a commodity is a lump of the worker’s labour in physical form.  It also represents the de-skilling involved in mass production.  Although the seeds are painted by hand, each one bears only a few strokes – this from an industry in which hand painting was highly skilled and beautiful.

The use of sunflower seeds has a resonance for China, in that they are widely regarded and consumed as a snack food there.

Ai himself says they can be seen as a metaphor for Twitter, each representing a single tweet.

I’ve been to see it this afternoon, but no time to write properly now – minor family crisis – so please treat this as a tweet.  Proper blog tomorrow.

Old one, a bit like a seed I thought.

Blackpaint

12.10.10