Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

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37 Ave btw 76 & 77 St

Ai Weiwei’s citywide exhibition uses existing elements of urban infrastructure as platforms for public art. Lamppost banners display a series of 200 portraits of immigrants and refugees. Unlike typical printed advertisements, the artist created unique double-sided banner portraits by cutting black vinyl to make images appear in the portions that remain. Their play of positive and negative space is analogous to the often-ambiguous status of refugees and migrants. The series encompasses many groups by spanning several periods and locales. It includes historic images from Ellis Island, photographs of notable refugees, formal portraits by Ai Weiwei’s studio from the Shariya camp in Iraq, and the artist’s cell phone photographs taken at refugee camps and national borders around the world. The banners portray people from varied backgrounds, yet each is presented in a consistent format, emphasizing their shared humanity.

This banner depicts Elie Wiesel (1928-2016, b. Sighetu Marmatiei, Romania), the writer, activist, professor, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate who survived Nazi persecution and Buchenwald concentration camp to flee to France after liberation, eventually immigrating to the United States to share his experiences during the Holocaust and advocate for tolerance and justice in the postwar period.

Photographer: Erling Mandelmann, Date: 1987, Copyright: Free for usage, given appropriate credit, Erling Mandelmann.

Courtesy of the artist.

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