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Kui Hua Zi (Sunflower Seeds)

Photo Credit: Rich Sanders, Des Moines

Kui Hua Zi (Sunflower Seeds)

Artist: Ai Weiwei (Chinese, born 1957)
Date: 2009
Medium: hand-painted porcelain
Dimensions:
Dimensions vary
Credit Line: Des Moines Art Center Permanent Collections; Purchased with funds from the Edmundson Art Foundation, Inc., 2012.76
Accession number: 2012.76
Classification: sculpture
In Collection(s)
Label TextAi Weiwei was born and educated in China. He lived in New York City from 1981 to 1993, when he returned to China and established a studio near Beijing. His art is often politically or socially charged, and he has been openly critical of China's human rights record. Arguably his most significant project was at the Tate Modern in London in 2010. This major work, titled Sunflower Seeds, installed in the Tate's large Turbine Hall, consisted of one hundred million porcelain sunflower seeds, each individually hand-made and hand painted by 1,600 Chinese artisans. The Art Center's acquisition is a portion of the seeds installed in the Turbine Hall. Ai's body of work, and especially the enormous scale of the Tate installation, demonstrates China's industrial capabilities and the country's attempts to come to grips with its past as well as its future. The installation comments on mass production and consumption, collective labor, and cultural history and its loss. Porcelain production is an intriguing facet of Chinese tradition. It is a product of high artistic and monetary value and for many, it equates Chinese culture. Sunflower Seeds were a common food source in China when Ai was young; the artist remembers that everyone had a pocketful at any given time. Ai's installation of porcelain seeds draws from this cultural and personal history while reconsidering notions of obsessive actions without profitable results and globalization. Source: News, Jan Feb Mar 2013.
entirely unexpected