ai weiwei: good fences make good neighbors

ai weiwei: good fences make good neighbors

12 october 2017-11 february 2018

new york, NY

 

ai weiwei, the chinese artist, dissident, and activist, is building fences.

all over new york.

the city wide public art installation is so large that the sponsor, the non-profit public art fund, initiated a kickstarter campaign to help finance the project.

for the installation, the artist created fence themed sculptures for 17 public and private sites.  plus, 200 banners and 100+ documentary images to be installed on lamp posts, bus shelters, news stands, and advertising kiosks.

ai weiwei: good fences make good neighbors

rendering of the fence installation at doris c. freedman plaza | central park | 5th avenue and east 60th street | new york, NY

the plaza, which was named after the founder of the public art fund, has been the site of temporary art installations since 1977.

photo credit courtesy of ai weiwei studio/frahm & frahm and the public art fund via huffpost

the title of the exhibition is an excerpt from a poem by robert frost (1874-1963):

‘good fences make good neighbors.’

‘mending wall’ | north of boston | robert frost (1874-1963) | published in 1914

so, it seems ironic that the washington square (neighborhood) association is protesting the location of the ai weiwei fence installation in washington square park.

ai weiwei: good fences make good neighbors

rendering of the fence installation inside of washington square arch | washington square park | washington square north and 5th avenue | new york, NY

mckim, mead and white designed the arch, which was dedicated in 1895, to celebrate the centennial of the inauguration of president george washington.

photo credit courtesy of ai weiwei studio/frahm & frahm and the public art fund via huffpost

it also seems ironic that ai weiwei is fencing in the centerpiece of the 1964-1965 new york world’s fair, which had a theme of ‘peace through understanding’.

ai weiwei: good neighbors make good fences

rendering of the fence installation around the perimeter of the unisphere | flushing meadows-corona park | 111th street | queens, NY

landscape architect gilmore d. clarke (1892-1982) designed the unisphere for the 1964-1965 new york world’s fair.

photo credit courtesy of ai weiwei studio via vulture

when it was founded in 1859, the cooper union for the advancement of science and art revolutionized higher education by making it accessible to anyone.  both ai weiwei and the public art fund believe that art should be accessible to and experienced by everyone.  so, it seems unsurprising that they chose the cooper union as an installation site.  because of historical events that occurred in the great hall, the cooper union foundation building also symbolizes democracy, free speech, and equality.

ai weiwei: good fences make good neighbors

rendering of the fence installation on the facade of the foundation building | cooper union | 7 east 7th street  | new york, NY

designed by frederick a. peterson (1808-1885), the foundation building opened in 1858, one year before the opening of the cooper union.

photo credit via the public art fund

 

‘ai weiwei is unique in having combined the roles of

preeminent contemporary artist, political dissident, and human rights activist

in such a prominent and powerful way.’

-nicholas baume, director and chief curator, public art fund

 

for a complete list of installation sites,

click here to download the press release.

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