Artist/activist Ai Weiwei is famous for breaking down barriers (and stirring controversy) in his native China. But for one of his largest projects to date, he's actually building barriers—in New York, with help from the public. As Dezeen reports, Weiwei, in conjunction with the Public Art Fund, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to build security-fence installations throughout the city.
Called Good Fences Make Good Neighbors (a line borrowed from Robert Frost’s 1914 poem "Mending Wall"), the urban project—planned to commemorate the Public Art Fund's 40th anniversary—is symbolic of both the international migration crisis and President Donald Trump’s proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall. Erected on rooftops, in alleyways, and as freestanding sculptures, these individual artworks will examine themes like immigration, borders, and cultural division.
“I was an immigrant in New York in the 1980s for 10 years and the issue with the migration crisis has been a longtime focus of my practice,” Weiwei said in a statement. “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,” he added. “Some are more privileged than others, but with that privilege comes a responsibility to do more.”
Several hundred artworks have been proposed for sites across the city, including around 10 major landmarks, according to The New York Times. Sites like Central Park, Washington Square Park, and the Unisphere monument in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park will host large-scale, freestanding sculptures, while smaller works will be installed on top of and between private buildings in Lower Manhattan and around bus shelters in Brooklyn and Harlem. In addition to these 3D works, Weiwei has also created a series of lamppost banners and posters, featuring portraits of immigrants, which will hang across the city’s five boroughs.
Good Fences Make Good Neighbors will be on view from October 12, 2017 to February 11, 2018. To contribute to the Kickstarter campaign—which, as of press time, had already reached nearly $35,000 of its $80,000 goal—click here, or learn more by watching the video below.