Ai Weiwei launches Kickstarter to build security-fence installations in New York

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Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is crowdsourcing funds to erect more than 300 artworks based on themes of immigration, division and borders, in locations across New York City.

Together with the Public Art Fund, the artist has launched a Kickstarter campaign to realise the project titled Good Fences Make Good Neighbors.

Their ambitious plans involve erecting several large site-specific installations in locations including Central Park, Washington Square Park and the Unisphere monument. Smaller 2D and 3D interventions, all “addressing human rights issues” are also proposed across the five boroughs.

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors by Ai Weiwei

Ai is renowned for his political activism and has frequently criticised the Chinese government. He was famously arrested in 2011 and put under surveillance at his home in Beijing, unable to leave China until 2015.

More recently, the artist – who ranked at number 116 on Dezeen Hot List 2016 – has addressed Europe’s refugee crisis, with works including a floating installation of life jackets in Vienna.

He has now turned his attention to the controversy surrounding the US-Mexico border wall proposed by US president Donald Trump. As well as his own experience of detainment, Ai spent periods of last year visiting refugee camps around the world and also made a trip to the current barrier between Mexico and the US.

“The issue with the migration crisis has been a longtime focus of my practice,” he said. “And the fence has always been a tool in the vocabulary of political landscaping.”

His plans for New York include a giant sculpture made from security fencing slotted into the arch at Washington Square Park, and a golden cage-like structure for the Doris C Freedman Plaza at the southeast corner of Central Park.

Artworks will also “appear at street level, rise from rooftops, emerge between buildings, be affixed to lampposts, frame bus shelters, and seemingly grow out of the urban infrastructure”, according to the Kickstarter page.

The fundraising for Good Fences Make Good Neighbors has reached almost $30,000 towards its $80,000 target at the time of writing, with 26 days of the campaign remaining.

By Dan Howarth
Dezeen

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