Everyone’s favorite dissident artist Ai Weiwei will be building fences throughout New York City this fall in his next high-profile public art project aimed at making us all think a little more about how we treat each other.
The project “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors,” commissioned by the Public Art Fund, will include 100 fences and installations in various locations around the city. Ai says he was inspired by the classic Robert Frost poem “The Mending Wall,” as well as recent events and his own time spent in NYC:
I was an immigrant in New York in the 1980s for ten years and the issue with the migration focus has been a longtime focus of my practice. The fence has always been a tool in the vocabulary of political landscaping and evokes associations with words like ‘border,’ ‘security,’ and ‘neighbor,’ which are connected to the current global political environment. But what’s important to remember is that while barriers have been used to divide us, as humans we are all the same.
Ai’s project, which will be on view between October 12th, 2017 and February 11th, 2018, has already received acclaim from Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The exhibit serves as a reminder to all New Yorkers that although barriers may attempt to divide us, we must unite to make a meaningful impact in the larger community,” the mayor said. “New York City has long served as a gateway to the United States for millions of immigrants seeking better lives and has long benefited from their contributions and service in every neighborhood across the five boroughs.”
Ever since he got his own passport back from the Chinese government in 2015, Ai has been spending a good deal of his time in refugee camps around the world. That year he visited the Greek island of Lesbos to document the plight of refugees fleeing the Middle East.
Then, the next year, he laid down on the sand to recreate the haunting image of a drowned 3-year-old Syrian refugee.
He went on to pull his work from a Danish museum in protest of an anti-immigration bill, and cover a Berlin concert hall with 14,000 refugee life jackets.
Last Feburary, he even dressed up a room full of celebs at a Berlin gala in golden refugee jackets. A shameless selfie spree then ensued.
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