Chinese activist-artist Ai Weiwei is building dozens of fences in New York for an exhibition opening in October that focuses on walls that divide people and draw boundaries.
An advocate for refugees and migrants, Ai calls his new large-scale conceptual installation "Good Fences Make Good Neighbors." He took the title from the last line of "Mending Wall," a 20th-century poem by US poet Robert Frost that reflects on the relationship between two neighbors with fences.
The artist says he is dismayed by the U.S. leader's policies, including his promise to build a wall on the U.S. southern border with Mexico to stop undocumented immigrants, along with his attempt to bar entry into the United States by some Muslim majority countries.
Weiwei intends to transform the metal wire security fence into an artistic symbol in various locations in New York, including a gateway to the United States.
An outspoken critic of the Chinese government, Weiwei was detained for 81 days in 2011 and had his passport confiscated for four years. Ai, who now lives in Berlin, lived as an immigrant in New York from 1983 to 1993.
"The fence has always been a tool in the vocabulary of political landscaping, evoking associations with words such as 'border', 'security' and 'neighbor' associated with the current global political environment," he said.
"But it's important to remember that while barriers have been used to divide us, as humans we are all the same."
A political art installation with life jackets intended to highlight the refugee crisis, installed by Weiwei at the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin in 2016.