Ai Weiwei to build fences throughout New York for an exhibit on immigration

The project is titled Good Fences Make Good Neighbours

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The Independent Culture

With Donald Trump’s vowing to build walls and shut down borders, artists have continued to make powerful political statements, defiant against the President. 

In timely fashion, famed Chinese artists and activist Ai Weiwei will build over 100 fences around New York City, inspired by the international migration crisis and political turmoil facing the US.

According to the New York Times, Good Fences Make Good Neighbours - which was commissioned by the Public Art Fund - will be his largest public art project to date, compromising of  10 major installations and scatterings of minor works across various boroughs.

“I was an immigrant in New York in the 1980s for ten years and the issue with the migration crisis has been a longtime focus of my practice,” Ai said in a statement. 

“The fence has always been a tool in the vocabulary of political landscaping and evokes associations with words like ‘border,’ ‘security,’ and ‘neighbour,’ which are connected to the current global political environment. 

“But what’s important to remember is that while barriers have been used to divide us, as humans we are all the same. Some are more privileged than others, but with that privilege comes a responsibility to do more.” 

The project’s title references Robert Frost’s poem ‘Mending Wall,’ which included the line ‘Good fences make good neighbours’. 

Speaking to the NYT, he said: “When the Berlin Wall fell, there were 11 countries with border fences and walls. 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 globalisation.”

Last year, Ai announced revealed he spent time shooting a documentary while volunteering at refugee camps on the Greek-Macedonian border.

“It’s a documentary film, we have been shooting for over 600 hours, I did hundreds of interviews,” Ai told reporters at the time. “The film is going to come out next year. Now we are still doing last [shoots] since the refugee situation is continuous, it doesn’t seem it is going to stop.”