On October 12th, the Public Art Fund unveiled more than 300 pieces of art by Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei, throughout the five boroughs of New York City. One of the largest is featured in our very own Washington Square Park.
Walking down Fifth Avenue, you’ll find a 37-foot Duchamp-inspired sculpture beneath the Arch. From far away, it resembles a cage-like structure with two people embracing in the middle. When you walk through it, you will catch your own distorted reflection in the mirrored passageway.
The installation is a part of Ai Weiwei’s multi-site, multi-media exhibition, Good Fences Make Good Neighbors to celebrate 40 years of the Public Art Fund. The Public Art Fund details Good Fences as “a passionate response to the global migration crisis and a reflection on the profound social and political impulse to divide people from each other.”
Ai Weiwei drew from his own experiences for the exhibition. As a child, he experienced exile with his family and was also inspired by his own history as an immigrant and art student living in New York City. He wanted to highlight the recent plight of displaced people not only through art, but also through his documentary, Human Flow, where he visited 40 refugee camps in 23 countries.
The title Good Fences Make Good Neighbors comes from a proverb cited in Robert Frost’s poem, Mending Wall:
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbours.”
The exhibition is free and open to the public and runs through February 11, 2018. If you’d like to learn more about the exhibition or explore the multiple locations of Ai Weiwei’s work throughout New York City, please visit the Public Art Fund’s website.