Ai Weiwei Bringing Massive Controversial Art Project to New York City

New Yorkers are accustomed to fences and walk by them every day. But soon, they may want to give them a second look. It may give them some time to think, reflect, and maybe even argue.

Because, fence-themed art installations are going to be scattered across the five boroughs: All the work of renowned artist and no stranger to controversy, Ai Weiwei. They are part of his exhibit “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors,” set to open Oct.8 and commissioned by the Public Art Fund. It will comprise about 10 major works and several smaller pieces. Together, they will mark one of his biggest efforts to date.

Planned sites for these works include Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens and the Cooper Union building in Manhattan.

But why, fences? On face, it’s a reference to Robert Frost’s popular poem “Mending Wall.”

To Ai, it’s a modern-day political statement.

He tells the New York Times, “When the Berlin Wall fell, there were 11 countries with border fences and walls. By 2016, that number had increased to 70. We are witnessing a rise in nationalism, an increase in the closure of borders, and an exclusionary attitude toward migrants and refugees, the victims of war and the casualties of globalization” – all points likely to elicit conversation and even a few shouting matches.

Looks like Ai came to the right place.

About Andrew Burke 145 Articles
Editor-in-Chief Andrew Burke is a lifelong aficionado of all things Chinese. He studied Mandarin while living in Taiwan for six years and now works as a digitization specialist at the Yenching Library, which specializes in Asian books and documents, at Harvard University where he also studies topics related to China, Chinese, Asia and foreign affairs.