Sunflower seeds are a popular Chinese street snack but also hold another meaning for the artist… During the Cultural Revolution, propaganda images showed Chairman Mao as the sun and the mass of people as sunflowers turning towards him.
…Porcelain is almost synonymous with China and, to make his installation, Ai Weiwei has manipulated traditional methods of crafting what has historically been one of China’s most prized exports.
The project is designed to make visitors explore the ‘Made in China’ phenomenon and consider the geo-politics of cultural and economic exchange today, say curators of the exhibition… The seeds were made over a process of 20 to 30 steps in the city of Jingdezhen, which is renowned for its production of imperial porcelain.
The 53-year-old artist, who has been under state surveillance, said of the political repercussions of his latest work: ‘As a gesture it really encourages a lot of young people to express themselves more freely. As a nation, China has to (do that).’