He fêted his sixtieth birthday earlier this week, but you can help give legendary Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei another reason to celebrate. His new public art project, perhaps his most ambitious to date, needs funding to speckle New York City with testaments to the equality of all human rights and the strange hypocrisies that dot this journey towards personhood we’re stuck on together.
Good Fences Make Good Neighbors seeks to temporarily install over three hundred barriers across the Big Apple’s five boroughs; gilded, overbearing, inconvenient-to-navigate barricades illustrating just how ludicrous the rigid divides we construct really are, whether straddling frontiers between nations or hammered deep into the ground of our own minds and hearts.

Installation concept rendering, Doris C. Freedman Plaza

Installation concept rendering, Washington Square Park

Never one to be silenced for long, Weiwei hopes to seize one of the world’s largest stages, the whole of the city that refuses to sleep, to speak his truth concerning all too relevant themes of segregation, detention, forced migration, restricted immigration, xenophobia and privilege that can only be broken down by those who possess it.
By working his installations into the natural layout of New York, making it seem as if his palisades sprout naturally from the city’s sewer grates and subway exits, he will also make it clear just how easily how the preposterous can be normalised into the commonplace. Equate chicken wire slyly encircling a hotdog cart to unfounded hatred for a particular ethnic group, and you get the gist pretty quickly.
If standing up for inclusive values and quashing out the crazy in society via cultural exposure sounds up your alley, don’t hesitate to chip in. Weiwei and the Public Art Fund are running an all-or-nothing Kickstarter campaign until 20 September.
Emily Catrice
Images courtesy of Ai Weiwei Studio

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