Fences to NYC for Immigration-Themed Exhibit

Cornelia Mascio
Marzo 28, 2017

Now, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei wants to bring NY its next iconic public artwork, which will also be the political dissident's "most ambitious" project to date. The piece will use the motif of metal security fencing, and transform it to respond to existing architecture and landscapes surrounding each site.

He intends to transform the metal wire security fence into an artistic symbol in various sites in the NY, a gateway to the United States.

"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", Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.

Acclaimed Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei is behind a new series of public art installations soon to be appearing around the city.

The work shines a spotlight on the global refugee humanitarian crisis. "Some are more privileged than others, but with that privilege comes a responsibility to do more".

More locations for the installation will be announced in the coming months, but current confirmed sites include Flushing, Downtown Brooklyn, Central Park and the Lower East Side.

To "draw attention to the role of the fence as both a physical manifestation and metaphorical expression of division", the Public Art Fund said, and to "explore one of society's most urgent issues, namely the psychic and physical barriers that divide us, which is at the heart of debates about immigration and refugees today".

Ai also wrapped the pillars of the landmark Konzerthaus in Berlin with 14,000 salvaged lifejackets recovered on the Greek island of Lesbos, a key entry point to Europe for Syrian refugees.

The project, which will run from October 12th through February 11th, 2018, was commissioned by the Public Art Fund as a highlight of its 40th anniversary.

Ai's installations for Good Fences Make Good Neighbors-the title for which is borrowed from the Robert Frost poem Mending Wall-will be installed in varying shapes, sizes and environments, such as rooftops and alleyways, and a release for the project states that, "Rather than impeding daily life, the fences will serve as powerful metaphors in a city that has long served as a gateway to the United States for millions of immigrants". New Yorkers won't have to wait until October to experience Ai's work however.

Public Art Fund Director Nicholas Baume said that Weiwei is following in the radical tradition of artists who used the city itself as a creative platform in the '70s.

"This expansive public art project that explores themes of freedom and the power of self-expression is a flawless symbol and reminder for all of us, especially in the current political climate", he said in a statement.

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