Closing of ‘Sunflower Seeds’ at Tate Modern

18th October 2010

Tate Modern has been forced to close the giant Turbine Hall’s sunflower seeds commission to public access because the surge of interest has created ‘dangerous levels of dust.’ Visitors can now look but not touch the exbition, the opposite to what was intended by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

The exhibition opened on Tuesday 12th October; 14,000 visitors flocked to see the work and began to canoodle and build ‘seedcastles’ as if it were an indoor beach. Many stole pieces as souvenirs (next stop – ebay?)

Yesterday site-officials cordoned off the area while curators held talks with the artist over the damage being caused to the seeds, which were all individually crafted, painted and fired. Another worry is that the seeds wouldn’t last the 6 months.

A Tate spokeswoman issued this explanation: “Although porcelain is very robust, the enthusiastic interaction of visitors has resulted in a greater than expected level of dust in the Turbine Hall. Tate has been advised that this dust could be damaging to health following repeated inhalation over a long period of time.”

It was then decided to close public access to the artwork permanently.

What we want to know is that wasn’t the point of piece that it was interactive? Perhaps Tate Modern should limit the number of people that can go onto the seeds at once, rather than stop access altogether? So much of conceptual and modern art is arguably inaccessible and unrelatable that perhaps what the art-world needs is millions of ceramic sunflower seeds that people can build ‘seedcastles’ with!