Sponsored by the Public Art Fund, an expansive Ai Weiwei installation will be on display in New York City until February 11, 2018.
“Good Fences Make Good Neighbors” is a public art project conceptualized by Beijing-born, artist and human rights activist Ai Weiwei, and curated by Public Art Fund Director Nicholas Baume. The multimedia installation includes over 300 works spread across the city’s five boroughs. According to Weiwei, New York City is the perfect home for a project like this because the city is such a meld of different cultures.
The art includes banners, sculptures and fences; the works have been strategically placed in public spaces like parks, atop private buildings, at transportation sites, near monuments, and on lampposts.
This provocative project questions the assumption made by poet Robert Frost in Mending Fences, that fences make for better relationships. Instead, drawing upon his own life experiences as an immigrant and his many visits to refugee camps with fences around the world, Weiwei suggests that fences, walls and other barriers are socially divisive, often stoking fear and prejudice. The timing of this installation couldn’t be more relevant as our nation struggles with political and social issues of borders and migration.
With more than 400 installations under its belt, New York City’s Public Art Fund has worked for more than four decades to make art accessible both to New Yorkers and to the many visitors who arrive here. The Fund’s latest undertaking might be one of the most ambitious.
The Gilded Cage
We visited the “Gilded Cage” at the southeast entrance to Central Park.
Visitors are actually able to enter the gold/orange-colored structure, which is surrounded by bars and turnstiles.
“Functioning as a structure of both control and display, the work reveals the complex power dynamics of repressive architecture,” notes Weiwei in the written program developed for the installation.
Navigating the Public Art Fund installation
It’s far easier to visit the project on the web than it is to see all of it in person. An interactive map describes each of the works (in 11 different languages) and places them on a map of the city. If you click on a specific listed work, you can read about its history, meaning and obtain directions via Google Maps.
While the experience of seeing the works in person amidst other visitors is extremely powerful, the logistics of seeing them all (or many of them) at once can be complicated. Distances between them can be great (sometimes entailing crossing bridges) and traffic is reliably formidable in New York.
Instead, if you are visiting the city, we recommend you check out the interactive map to see which ones most interest you and which of them are convenient to visit.
Check out this powerful video on Vimeo describing “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors.”
IF YOU GO
The Public Art Fund Ai Weiwei installation will be on display in NYC until February 11, 2018.
Previously on More Time To Travel: