An ambitious public art exhibition is set to be unveiled across New York on Thursday, and one of its installments is already turning heads. Those who visited Washington Square Park over the weekend got a sneak peek at artist Ai Weiwei's “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors,” which will bring 300 works, with themes including border control, immigration and the refugee crisis, to sites across the five boroughs. The park will host nearly a dozen installations from the exhibit, the most notable of which is a 37-foot steel cage positioned directly beneath the square's iconic arch. At the center of the piece is a polished, reflective amoeba-shaped “passageway” that visitors will be able to walk through once the exhibition opens.
The exhibit does not come to the park without controversy, though. The Washington Square Association has criticized Ai's work for politicizing the landmark and said that the installation “sets a dangerous precedent that one of New York City’s most recognized monuments and pieces of art can be decorated and co-opted for four months at a time.”
The towering work is a subtle nod to Marcel Duchamp (the passageway is modeled after the his 1937 Door for Gradiva at Andre Breton’s art gallery in Paris), who in 1917 famously climbed atop the arch with a group of artists, spread out blankets and lanterns and declared the place the “Free and Independent Republic of Washington Square” for a day.
“Good Fences Make Good Neighbors” will be on display until February 11, 2018, so if you didn't manage to take an early look at the installation over the weekend, you still have plenty of time.