Next time you see a child with a sleeve of Silly Bandz, think about Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower seeds.
Elastic bands that come in different colours and shapes, collected by any child whose parents can afford buying weekly packets of 24 for $5 a pop. However, as absurd as this may sound, children obsess over Silly Bandz. I remember working at Chapters last year, we never had enough of this crap. So what do Silly Bandz have to do with Ai Weiwei? Well, first watch this video:
Ai Weiwei wanted visitors to his exhibition (which was that room full of sunflower seeds) to interact with the seeds while reflecting on social issues such as “mass consumption, Chinese industry, famine and collective work.” Watching the video adds an extra dimension of symbolism to the sunflower seeds; namely, the porcelain seeds become symbolic of how much human labour and material resource goes into making the most unnecessary things just for the sake of appeasing the insatiable appetite of Western consumption.
Just think of the seeds as “Silly Bandz.”
I’d like to thank my brother for bringing this spectacular piece of art to my attention.