Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Learn to Appreciate Sunflowers

Recently, I was startled and enchanted by a gigantic sunflower in my neighbor's lot.  It was amazingly tall and commanded great attention and respect.  I simply loved it.

DSCN7003 - Sunflower, June 2013

DSCN7010 - Sunflower, June 2013

DSCN7006 - Sunflower, June 2013

DSCN7002 - Sunflower, June 2013

DSCN7011 - Sunflower, June 2013

However, it took me decades to disassociate the robust, unique and healthily lovely sunflowers from the unsavory political metaphor imposed on them.  When I grew up in China, all kids were summarily called "motherland's sunflowers" and we rotated ever so faithfully and diligently, pivoting ourselves, cranking out little necks, to admire and bask in the warmth from the glowing, majestically gliding red sun, which was naturally, the Chinese Communist Party, the father and mother of us all.

That notion had thoroughly destroyed my feeling towards sunflowers and only after more than two decades separation and healing that I was ready to embrace them as what marvelous flowers they were.  Nothing more.

For some, that forced connection gave them food for thoughts, such as the renowned Chinese artist and provocateur Ai Weiwei, whose 2010 installation at Tate Modern, Sunflower Seeds, generated much exhilaration amongst casual visitors and more poignancy from those who had known what it was like to be one of those faceless and nameless sunflower seeds.  Below is how wikipedia described his installation:
The work consists of one hundred million porcelain "seeds", each individually hand-painted in the town of Jingdezhen by 1,600 Chinese artisans, and scattered over a large area of the exhibition hall. The artist was keen for visitors to walk across and roll in the work to experience and contemplate the essence of his comment on mass consumption, Chinese industry, famine and collective work. However, on 16 October, Tate Modern stopped people from walking on the exhibit due to health liability concerns over the porcelain dust. In February 2011, a 220-pound (100 kg) pile from Sunflower Seeds sold for $559,394 (well above its high estimate of $195,000) at Sotheby's in London. In May 2012, Tate Modern acquired 8 million of Ai's "Sunflower Seeds" with support from the Art Fund, although the figure was not disclosed.
Here are two video samples of the his installation, Sunflower Seeds:


Related posts on Art · 文化 · Kunst
- Art in the Streets of San Francisco
- Caressing Sun
- My Flower Paintings on Synchronized Chaos
- Ai Weiwei, Ai Qing and Liu Xiaoqing
- Sunflower Seeds by Ai Weiwei at Tate Modern, London

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