The latest disaster in the Unilever Series in the Turbine Hall of London’s Tate Modern is Sunflower Seeds by Ai Weiwei. It is billed as “a 100 million seeds that form a seemingly infinite landscape.” What you actually see is a tedious, bounded stretch of gritty gray gravel that covers the far end of the Turbine Hall. It lacks the careful raking and the strategic placing of carefully chosen boulders that characterize the best of Chinese and Japanese stone gardens—they would break up the monotony and add a variety of shape and texture that is utterly missing from the Tate’s grubby, granulated wall-to-wall.

You cannot even experience the joy of trekking noisily across this mass of porcelain mock–sunflower seeds to decorate it with footprints. Earlier visitors could enjoy the childhood pleasures of walking scrunch, crunch, scrunch across it. But now the tort lawyers are wheeling in the sky. We are...

 

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