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Ai Weiwei’s sunflower seeds at the Tate Modern

Ai Weiwei has always been one of my favorite contemporary Chinese artists. The simple visual puns and sly humor of his work always floor me, and his recent installation at the Tate Modern in London, which consists 100 million hand-painted, porcelain sunflower seeds carpeting the floor of the main hall, is simply over-the-top amazing.

The joke here is that working class people in China eat a lot of sunflower seeds. But these seeds are maid out of a luxurious material and individually created by artisans. Apparently, the traditional black slip used to paint the seeds scraped off, forming hazardous dust, so viewers can no longer romp around on the seeds, but the very spectacle of the piece, even minus the interactivity, is pretty impressive.

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