On Tate's new seeds
March 5 2012
Picture: Graham Turner/Guardian
A reader writes:
To answer your question, yes!
Perhaps the reason behind the Tate/ArtFund decision not to disclose the price is that they are embarrassed. However, as you rightly say, that is not a valid reason. If they believe in the 'work' they must be able to defend the expenditure.
For the ArtFund to collude in this, when they are always begging for funds from their members, is a disgrace.
Strong stuff. I've asked the Art Fund if there was any reason behind not releasing the extent of their contribution. But answer comes there none.
Of course, it is possible that the secrecy is to protect a super low price paid to Mr Weiwei, which would be seen as lowering the market rate for his seeds. But why would the artist want his benevolence to be secret?
It would be interesting to know what the going rate for Weiwei's seeds was before the recent Tate installation, to compare with what they fetched after it. I suspect, in other words, that in return for all that publicity and establishment endorsement, Mr Weiwei owes the Tate a big favour...
Update: it has been hinted to me that the lack of disclosure has something to do with the artist's recent run-in with the Chinese authorities. Presumably, if that is the case, Weiwei won't be selling anything publicly at auction for a while either.