Ai Weiwei will erect over 100 fences across NYC this autumn for his new artwork, Good Fences Make Good Neighbours.
His artwork – launching on 12 October – will be among his largest public exhibitions to date and will comprise 10 giant installations, as well as a scattering of smaller pieces across Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens.
The title of the installation is taken from Robert Frost’s poem ‘Mending Wall’ and is a riposte to America’s increasing isolationism.
‘When the Berlin Wall fell, there were 11 countries with border fences and walls,’ Weiwei told The New York Times. ‘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 towards migrants and refugees, the victims of war and the casualties of globalization.’
Among sites being earmarked for the project are Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, the Cooper Union building in Manhattan and Central Park’s Doris C Freedman Plaza.
‘This is the most ambitious that we’ve undertaken since I’ve been here,’ said Nicholas Baume, director of the Public Art Fund which commissioned the piece. ‘Certainly, it’s the most distributed throughout the city.’
Last year the artist covered the pillars of Berlin’s Konzerthaus in 14,000 refugee life jackets, and, for his latest installation Law of the Journey, he has inserted a black rubber boat inside Prague’s National Gallery carrying 258 figures.
Says Weiwei: ‘We cannot lose our fundamental beliefs in human rights and human dignity.’