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Keep off the art

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Will Gompertz | 11:56 UK time, Friday, 15 October 2010

Earlier this week, I wrote about Ai Weiwei's installation at Tate's Turbine Hall; visitors were being invited to walk across 100 million porcelain replicas of sunflower seeds.

A few days in, and visitors may now kneel beside the seeds, and possibly touch them - but may not walk across the piece because of concerns about the dust they might inhale.

A major point of this installation was the individual's reaction to moving their feet over it and the thoughts aroused by possibly crushing objects which have been individually hand-made and hand-painted by Chinese workers.

Standing or kneeling at the rim will be a bit like looking at an empty picture frame instead of one that actually has a picture in it.


  • Comment number 1.

    Will Gompertz.

    another reminder of how our world is being turned into some fascistic zombie factory where conformism and mindelessness rules supreme. Ai Weiwei must feel gutted.

  • Comment number 2.

    If 'health and safety' get wind of this they will stop us all from walking on the beach! How silly!

  • Comment number 3.

    What will happen to the "seeds" after the exhibition? The thought of the cost of conserving this in an expensive controlled facility horrifies me. In this regard recent art is no more "green" than traditional art, arguably less "green" in many instances.

  • Comment number 4.

    Big deal. It's just the same as every other art intended to be tangible. Some doofus will always whinge and spoil if for everyone else.

  • Comment number 5.

    Is it not possible to allow visitors to experience walking over the sunflower seeds one at a time, causing minimal dust and allowing us British to join another queue. Everyone happy?

  • Comment number 6.

    I just wish they'd stop putting on these stupid Turbine Hall farces. They select exciting and important artists who then generally go on to produce the worst piece of their career because the whole situation's so forced and compromised. The idiocy of the visiting public doesn't help either - it might work if people could reasonably be expected to interact with / walk on rather than trash and fling the piece - but they can't, apparently.

  • Comment number 7.

    The cynic in me sees this as nothing more than a stunt; it's got nothing to do with health or protecting "the work" - it's about the artist and the institution drawing attention to themselves and trying to spark a debate.

    If there are genuine health concerns then my hiring of a hazmat suit for my trip down there in a couple of weeks should keep them happy - can't see there being any objections to me experiencing the work, I won't be exposed to any risk.

  • Comment number 8.

    So, it's no longer a work of art? Just a pile of dusty pebbles on the floor of a London building.

    If the interaction with the public was core to the meaning of the art, then removing them also removes its purpose.

    6 months of staring at a pile of gravel is simply a waste of everyone's time and money.

  • Comment number 9.

    This is anything to do with health & safety, and more to do with stopping the public from taking home a momento - see how far away from the 'art' the rope is.

  • Comment number 10.

    why don't they give poeple masks?


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