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Tate Stops Visitors Trampling On Sun Flower Seeds
By Mark Brown

People are meant to walk through Ai Weiwei's installation but health fears over ceramic dust have prompted restrictions

Tate stops visitors trampling on Sunflower SeedsPeople are meant to walk through Ai Weiwei's installation but health fears over ceramic dust have prompted restrictionsMark Brown, arts correspondent guardian.co.uk, Friday 15 October 2010 11.28 BST [Image] larger | smaller [Image]Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds at Tate Modern's Turbine Hall in London. Visitors will now be unable to walk over the work. Photograph: Tony Kyriacou/Rex FeaturesTate Modern is to stop visitors walking over the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei's vast field of 100m porcelain sunflower seeds because of health and safety fears over ceramic dust.As revealed by the Guardian, the Turbine Hall installation has been closed since yesterday morning because of worries that dust inhalation might be a health risk. That means the thousands of visitors who traipsed through the installation between Monday and Wednesday were the lucky ones. The work will now be viewed from the building's bridge."The Unilever Series, Sunflower Seeds, by Ai Weiwei is made up of over 100m individually handmade porcelain replicas of seeds," the Tate said today."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. In consequence, Tate, in consultation with the artist, has decided not to allow visitors to walk across the sculpture."The work is intended to be interactive and to have people walking through it, although some visitors, mainly children, had more fun in the seeds than curators might have liked.The work was closed yesterday for reasons which a spokeswoman initially said were artistic: the work simply needed putting back into shape. The Tate revised that statement this morning.One visitor, who preferred not to be named, said she arrived at the gallery to see the work in mid-afternoon yesterday and waited 45 minutes before giving up. "It was very frustrating – there was no sign up about it, nobody to ask what was going on. There were two men raking it incredibly slowly. When I found someone to ask they said it was because of the dust it was creating and there was a meeting going on about it upstairs."The Chinese artist's work, consisting of 100m hand-painted replica sunflower seeds, has proved popular since it opened on Monday.Until yesterday the biggest issue surrounding the work had been whether visitors could take home one of the 100m seeds, all hand-crafted in China's porcelain capital, Jingdezhen. The official Tate line was certainly not, but the instruction was not always heeded.Tate Modern has had health and safety problems with art in the Turbine Hall before. People hurtling down Carsten Höller's slides caused some nervousness in 2006, and a year later signs urged visitors to be careful viewing Doris Salcedo's 167m crack in the floor.guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010 



Kelly Kessler said...

Waddya think, potters, is it a health hazard? I thought the risk for silicosis lay in free silica - tiny microscopic particles found in raw clay, flint and some other materials. Could fired porcelain create a small enough particle of dust to be an issue? Where's Monoa Rossol when you need her?

dizzymisslizzyscrafts said...

Let's give in to the fear-mongers once again! Here is the KEY phrase:

"Tate has been advised that this dust could be damaging to health following repeated inhalation over a long period of time."

Note the words " repeated inhalation," and "over a long period of time." This generally refers to day-after-day exposure for years...not a one-time visit to an art gallery, even if there IS dust hanging in the air!

Blame lawyers and the overly-litigious society we have become as a result, for this sort of paranoid nonsense!

ANI said...

Tate, meet the world. People inhale exhaust, road dust, and every imaginable irritant on their way to the Museum, but porcelain dust is more hazardous? If we did not create this super-litigious society, this would not be happening.

Maggie said...

I think the video is the real art piece. I would not have understood any of it by just seeing the exhibit.

Maggie said...

Depends on what kind of cloud is present at the time.I think I would know if I wanted to walk through it or not.