If a first glance at the photo above has you wondering how a gallery floor covered with a vast and pristine aggregation of Sunflower Seeds qualifies as “Art,” please consider that these aren’t merely sunflower seeds but, rather, tiny hand-painted ceramic sculptures of Sunflower Seeds, and you may find your perception shifting. The Mary Boone Gallery in Chelsea is currently hosting an installation of Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds (2010), which originally debuted at London’s Tate Modern, where it covered nearly the entire floor of the Turbine Hall gallery. The Boone Gallery show has been significantly scaled down in size (from 100 million seeds in the original installation to several million here) but it is nevertheless an impressive sight.
Visitors to the Tate exhibition were originally encouraged to walk across the sculpture, but this practice was soon halted out of a concern for public health (something about dust inhalation). Likewise, visitors to Mary Boone are not permitted to walk on the ceramic sunflower seeds, and with the ubiquitous gallery guards (Art Nazis) watching you at all times, it’s best not to even try.
Watch a cool video where Ai Weiwei talks about the project and walks you through the process of creating the seeds below.
Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds installation is on view at Mary Boone Gallery, 541 West 24th Street in Chelsea, New York through February 4, 2012.