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.

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