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October 12, 2017 to February 11, 2018

Multi-site. See event page for more details.

Public Art Fund

Ai WeiWei: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Image: Installation concept rendering, Doris C. Freedman Plaza

This October, as a highlight of its 40th anniversary in 2017, Public Art Fund presents Good Fences Make Good Neighbors, a timely new exhibition across multiple boroughs by world-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 of 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 PlaceJCDecaux bus shelters in Brooklyn in partnership with the New York City Department of Transportation, Doris C. Freedman Plaza at Central Park and Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens both in partnership with NYC Parks, and numerous others throughout the city – Ai 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. Ai Weiwei: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors will be on view October 12, 2017 – February 11, 2018 at sites throughout New York City. 

One of the leading cultural figures of his generation who is recognized for the influence and profound social impact of his work, Ai Weiwei has built a remarkable interdisciplinary career working across a variety of media. He inhabits many roles, including those of sculptor, architect, filmmaker, photographer, writer, publisher, curator, and activist. Across all of these outlets he meaningfully explores the dynamics of institutional power and draws attention to urgent humanitarian crises and civil liberties violations through resonant images and installations. His most recent gallery exhibitions have been inspired by his experiences in many sites where the migration crisis is felt most urgently, including on the Greek island of Lesbos in 2016, a key entry point to Europe for thousands of Syrian refugees. In Vienna and in Berlin, his installations brought thousands of refugee life jackets from Lesbos to the Belvedere Palace pond and to the pillars of the Berlin Konzerthaus. While in New York, he filled the Jeffrey Deitch gallery with thousands of garments discarded from refugee camps and exhibited recent sculptures at Mary Boone Gallery and Lisson Gallery, New York, that were symbols for displacement. Good Fences Make Good Neighbors will be Ai Weiwei’s largest and most ambitious public art exhibition to date.