‘Good Fences Make Good Neighbors’ by Ai Weiwei
This October, the Public Art Fund, New York City, presents Good Fences Make Good Neighbors, a timely exhibition across multiple boroughs by renowned artist Ai Weiwei. Inspired by the international migration crisis and tense sociopolitical battles surrounding the issue in the United States and worldwide, the artist has conceived this ambitious, multi-site project as a way of transforming the metal wire security fence into a powerful artistic symbol. By installing fences in varying, site-specific forms at locations across the city — including sites like the New York City Economic Development Corporation-managed Essex Street Market on the Lower East Side; The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art on Astor Place; JCDecaux bus shelters in Brooklyn in partnership with the New York City Department of Transportation; Doris C. Freedman Plaza at Central Park; and Flushing MeadowsCorona Park in Queens, both in partnership with NYC Parks, and numerous others throughout the city — Weiwei will create striking installations that draw attention to the role of the fence as both a physical manifestation and metaphorical expression of division. In this way, he will 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.
The exhibition takes its name from the classic American poem Mending Wall by Robert Frost, which explores the role and impulse for boundaries in society, where tradition and habit often mask fear and narrow-mindedness. It is curated by Public Art Fund Director & Chief Curator Nicholas Baume with the assistance of Associate Curator Daniel S. Palmer. Good Fences Make Good Neighbors is a conceptual work that engages subjects of division and separation: political, social, and personal themes made literal and visible in the form of wire fencing. Weiwei’s interventions will appear in unexpected urban contexts across the city — on rooftops, in spaces between buildings, on bus shelters, as freestanding sculptures, and more — as if growing out of the existing urban landscape, while also changing how we perceive our environment. Rather than impeding daily life, the fences will serve as metaphors in a city that has served as a gateway to the United States for millions of immigrants.
Ai Weiwei: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors will be on view October 12, 2017 – February 11, 2018 at sites throughout New York City.