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A Tate Modern security guard discusses his views off record

 

Due to growing fears for health and safety the Tate Modern has announced it will close Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds exhibition in the Turbine Hall.

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei presented visitors to the Tate with a fully immersive experience in which they could walk across and play in the porecelain seeds.

The work consisted of millions of small porcelain pebbles hand painted to look like sunflower seeds.

Public opinion was positive on the opening day of the exhibition as many walked straight out onto the seeds.

Alex Graham from Oregan, USA was being buried in the seeds at the time of interview;

‘I like it, the way you can experience and touch it. It isn’t every day you get to be buried.’

Fears Over Dust

Many visitors and a security guard at the Tate who did not want to give his name mentioned the amount of dust created by the seeds.

The Telegraph reports that due to the high volume of human traffic staff at the gallery noticed,

‘A fine dust rising from the seeds as people crunched them underfoot.’

Medical journalist Jodi Dixon from London spoke about the risks;

‘There is so much dust here, people keep getting up and brushing themselves down and then wishing they hadn’t ventured into the middle of it all.’

Closures

From now on the public can only view Sunflower Seeds from the bridge above the hall.

The Telegraph spoke to Leanne Metcalf, Director of Research at Asthma UK, who was happy about the decision;

‘Visitors walking over the porcelain sunflower seeds have inadvertently created a cloud of potentially damaging porcelain dust in the air which, if breathed in, can have a detrimental effect on lung function due to the silica which is found within it.’

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Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds exhibition at the Tate Modern encourages a multiplictiy of people to examine the ‘Made in China’ phenomenon, the Tate Modern says.

The gallery revealed the Chinese artists exhibition on Tuesday 12th October and already people are getting involved.

What look like millions of sunflower seeds covering the Turbine Halls floor are actually hand-painted porcelain pebbles.

Alex Graham from Oregan, USA, was being buried in the seeds at the time of interview;

‘I like it [the piece], in a way you experience it and get to touch it. It isn’t everyday that you get to be buried in art.’

Weiwei’s Art

Crafted in the Chinese city of Jingdezhen the work took place in small-scale workshops as opposed to being mass produced.

The Tate Modern website details the thoughts behind Ai Weiwei’s piece;

‘The casual act of walking on the work’s surface contrasts with the immense effort of production and the precious nature of the material. Porcelain is almost synonymous with China and, to make this work, Ai Weiwei has manipulated traditional methods of crafting what has historically been one of China’s most prized exports.’

The Weiwei exhibition actively invites public comment. There are cameras set up so that the people who view Sunflower Seeds can respond in a video and send their thoughts directly to Weiwei’s website.

Is it Art?

Greg Dawson from London commented;

‘It is art because it is in a gallery.’

A security guard at the gallery did not want to give his name was kind enough to share his own personal feelings on the piece;

‘It is a bit dusty and we have had more dramatic exhibitions but I suppose it is different. Did you see the crack?’

He alludes to Doris Salcedo’ Shibboleth for which the Tate Modern revealed a 548 ft long crack in the floor of the Turbine Hall which was three feet deep in places according to The Telegraph.

 

Ben Ye and Jin Wang

 

Jin Wang and Ben Ye from China were fascinated, Ben Ye asked;

‘What are they? we are confused, it is so big.’

Sunflower Seeds will be at the Tate Modern until May 2011.

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