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Ai Weiwei is erecting over 100 fences in NYC to address migration issues
Art | 3 April 2017

Ai Weiwei’s ‘Good Fences Make Good Neighbors’ (2016)

Top image: Ai Weiwei’s ‘Good Fences Make Good Neighbors’ (2016) Courtesy of the Public Art Fund 

Ai Weiwei, the challenging Chinese artist and activist, will erect over 100 security fences and installations throughout New York City this October. Good Fences Make Good Neighbours is Weiwei’s biggest public art project to date and focuses on the current state of global migration.


Ai Weiwei’s ‘Good Fences Make Good Neighbors’ (2016)

The project coincides with the 40th anniversary of the Public Art Fund, which commissioned the project, and comes just weeks after Donald Trump’s budget proposal eliminates the National Endowment for the Arts.

This timely installation will explore the current tensions surrounding borders and migration in the United States and around the world – following last Thursday’s appeal by Donald Trump’s administration in opposition to the latest court ruling against his revised travel ban. According to the New York TimesGood Fences Make Good Neighbours – a title that derives from the Robert Frost poem Mending Wall – will comprise of ten major installations and a few minor works across various boroughs.

In an attempt to mould the installation into the already existing urban landscape, the installations will be erected on rooftops, bus shelters, in-between buildings and more. Instead of acting as a barrier the fences will serve as metaphors to help how we perceive a city that is draped in the history of immigration.

Global migration is a topic Weiwei, who immigrated to New York in 1983, has tackled in recent works. For instance, take his 2016 exhibition, The Laudromat, featuring thousands of articles of clothing worn by Syrian refugees. The clothing was left behind after the forced evacuation of the Idomeni refugee camp. Men’s, women’s and children’s clothes were all neatly stacked and draped across three separate exhibitions in New York.

Good Fences Make Good Neighbours will be on view from 12th October, 2017 – 11th February, 2018 at multiple sites across New York City.

Gallery: Ai Weiwei's past artworks



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