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Ai Weiwei’s Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

"Fences can be used to regulate and detain people, to segregate and to train people to accept the given conditions." - Ai Weiwei

Over the past year we’ve witnessed incredible divisive tension in society. The differences that divide us have been scrutinized and emphasized, while talks of ‘walls’ and fear of the other have dominated the airwaves. Partnering with Public Art Fund, Ai Weiwei hopes to change the conversation to one of unity. Set to open October 12, 2017, Good Fences Make Good Neighbors is a new exhibition across multiple New York City boroughs, inspired by the “international migration crises and tense sociopolitical battles surrounding the issue in the United States and worldwide” (Public Art Fund).  

Ai Weiwei at the US-Mexico border, 2016. Source: Public Art Fund Kickstarter

Transforming the metal wire security fence into a powerful artistic symbol, Weiwei will install various fences at numerous locations throughout the city, including the JCDecaux bus shelters in Brooklyn, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, and Doris C. Freedman Plaza at Central Park. “The installations are designed to draw attention to the role of the fence as both a physical manifestation and metaphorical expression of division,” shared Public Art Fund.

 

Installation concept rendering, Washington Square Park. Source: Public Art Fund Kickstarter

“I was an immigrant in New York in the 1980s for ten years and the issue with the migration crisis has been a long time focus of my practice,” says Ai Weiwei. Appearing in unexpected urban contexts across the city, Weiwei hopes the installations will change how people perceive their daily environment. “Rather than impeding daily life, the fences will act as powerful metaphors in a city that has long been a gateway to the United States for millions of immigrants” (Public Art Fund).


Installation concept rendering, Doris C. Freedman Plaza. Source: Public Art Fund Kickstarter

Running until February 11, 2018, “Ai Weiwei’s Good Fences Make Good Neighbors 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,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Currently accepting donations on Kickstarter, funding for the campaign closes September 20. If the goal of $80,000 is not reached in time, the project is unlikely to move forward. To support the campaign, click the link here.

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