If you’ve walked around NYC recently, you’ve probably noticed that artist and Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei took over. The city-wide exhibition, curated by the Public Art Fund, focuses on the global refugee crisis. The Chinese activist wants to call attention to the immigration and refugee crisis around the world. Good Fences Make Good Neighbors includes small to large-scale artworks that are displayed in over 300 sites around New York City.


Ai Weiwei Arch, 2017. Galvanized mild steel and mirror polished stainless steel. Courtesy of Ai Weiwei Studio/ Frahm & Frahm Photo: Jason Wyche

The larger works will live in Central Park, Washington Square Park’s Arch in Greenwich Village, and the Unisphere in Queens. Flagpoles, newsstands, rooftops, bus shelters, and lampposts will also be home to artworks. These locations which are scattered throughout the city make the exhibition sort of a game. You must follow a map to find the pieces or stumble across them in your everyday commuting. Massive is an understatement, with over 300 sites, Ai makes it almost impossible for anyone walking around the city not to be aware of the global migration crisis.


Many of Ai’s recent works deal with the refugee crisis. At the 2017 Venice Biennale, Ai debuted his film ‘Human Flow which will open in theaters around the world and features pieces from Good Fences Make Good Neighbors. Ai and his team traveled to 23 countries and more than 40 refugee camps to create the documentary.


According to Public Art Fund, “Good fences make good neighbors” is a folksy proverb cited in American poet Robert Frost’s Mending Wall, where the need for a boundary wall is being questioned. Ai chose this title with an ironic smile and a keen sense of how populist notions often stir up fear and prejudice. Visitors to the exhibition will discover that Ai’s “good fences” are not impenetrable barriers but powerful, immersive, and resonant additions to the fabric of the city.”


Ai Weiwei Circle Fence, 2017. Powder coated mild steel, polypropylene netting. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Timothy Schenck

Being one of the most important places where refugees come to America, Ellis Island, now a museum, will be a top contributor in this exhibition, with photos presented from immigrants arriving there, the process they went through, and images spanning different time periods to show the immigration process in America and how it has transformed.


Ai Weiwei Banner 138, 2017. CNC-cut Polymar truck tarp. Courtesy of the artist Photo: Jason Wyche


Good Fences Make Good Neighbors until run through February 11, 2018. If you’re on the hunt for all 300 works, this interactive map will come in handy.


Public Art Fund brings dynamic contemporary art to a broad audience in New York City and beyond by mounting ambitious free exhibitions of international scope and impact that offer the public powerful experiences with art and the urban environment.



top image // Ai Weiwei Gilded Cage, 2017, Courtesy of Ai Weiwei Studio/ Frahm & Frahm