I was underwhelmed by Ai Weiwei’s installation Sunflower Seeds at Tate Modern in 2011 . I felt that the craftsmen individually making porcelain Sunflower Seeds were doing something nature did every Autumn, and that they would have been better employed doing good deeds, helping the underclass – if that is possible in a tightly controlled China.
But this exhibition at the Royal Academy is quite different – overwhelming, mind-blowing, fabulous, Must-Go!! It is hard to choose what to illustrate – the moving videos showing the Chinese overlords at their most destructive, the chandelier of glass suspended from bicycle frames, the fabulous cubes of glass or beautifully crafted wood or his iconoclastic painting of ancient pots.
There was something so forlorn about the empty white porcelain push-chair amongst the fragile grey and white porcelain grass. Were the lookers-on about to trample the delicate leaves? Was the child lost for ever? Perhaps a little girl in a society where only boy children are valued?