Artist Ai Weiwi to Install Provocative Fences at Essex Street Market as Part of Citywide Project

Posted on: March 31st, 2017 at 5:10 am by
Essex Street Market, June 2016

Essex Street Market, June 2016

Provocative Chinese artist Ai Weiwei will construct more than 100 fences and installations around the Five Boroughs this fall as part of his “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors” project, one of his largest to date. And the Lower East Side will benefit.

The four-month artistic endeavor, which begins on October 12, was commissioned by the Public Art Fund to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the organization. It carries similar bombastic hallmarks as previous Fund hits like the The New York City Waterfalls (2008).

With “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors,” Weiwei hopes to “draw attention to the role of the fence as both a physical manifestation and metaphorical expression of division.”

“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,” the artist noted in a public statement. “The fence has always been a tool in the vocabulary of political landscaping and evokes associations with words like ‘border,’ ‘security,’ and ‘neighbor,’ 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.”

Two such decorative fences will appear on the Lower East Side for a brief stint – the Essex Street Market and the Cooper Union in Astor Place.

Recent Stories

Hamilton Fish Park Pool to Reopen by August 1

In an about-face, the city announced yesterday that at least fifteen public pools will reopen across the Five Boroughs. Included in the lucky list is the Hamilton Fish Park pool, known to locals as the “Pitt Pool.” But the cooldown will have to wait another month. The reopenings are scheduled for August 1, and are […]

Cocoa Bar Closes its Clinton Street Cafe

Cocoa Bar closed its doors for the last time during the coronavirus shutdown. The Lower East Side offshoot of the Brooklyn original is now another statistic for businesses lost during the pandemic. The casual cafe and wine bar – heavy on the chocolate – spent thirteen years serving from its perch at 21 Clinton Street. Tombstone […]

Rallying Against Demolition of Century-Old School Building at 70 Mulberry Street

Saturday afternoon, dozens of preservationists gathered outside 70 Mulberry Street to protest the demolition of a Chinatown relic. The former public school building that has served as a beacon of neighborhood nonprofits for decades. More than one hundred people congregated outside the fire-stricken structure. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams also showed his support for the […]

Mount Sinai Can’t be Bothered to Clean Trash from Rivington House

Rivington House is a trash-strewn mess, and it doesn’t appear that the Mount Sinai overlords care about cleanup. At the outset of the COVID-19 lockdown, the future Behavioral Health facility erected a plywood shed to help repel the homeless that tend to loiter and sleep at the doorway. Activity that has transpired on the spot […]

Gaia Italian Cafe Loses its Lease After a Decade on East Houston

One of the most popular, albeit low key, restaurants on the Lower East Side is set to close next month. Gaia Italian Cafe, which has kept the neighborhood in cozy home-cooked, will close at the end of July. The forthcoming closure caps a nine-and-a-half-year run on East Houston Street. We’re told that the landlord decided […]