Ai Weiwei’s Vision in Washington Square, Night

In celebration of its 40th anniversary, the Public Art Fund has unveiled its largest public art project to date in the city, “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors” by the Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei. The installation, consisting of more than 300 artworks throughout the city, is designed to draw attention to the plight of international refugees. Three large sculptures dominate the ambitious work - one in Central Park, another in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, and the “Arch” in Washington Square Park (pictured here).

"Arch" by Ai Weiwei in Washington Square Park

The “Arch” in Washington Square Park may best be viewed at night, as the vision is so stark. The metal cage-like structure, set within the famous Greenwich Village arch at the base of Fifth Avenue, invites the viewer to walk through cutouts of refugees. The interior of the cutouts are mirrored, so as to imagine and personalize the journey. The arch itself has long served as the passageway between the world of the Village and the larger metropolis to the north, so the placement of the work resonates with the historical surroundings.

Of course, most refugee stories unfold in places way tougher than in these gentrified surroundings. But at night, the work is enveloped in a little mystery and danger, with the bright park lights taking on the cast of searchlights, or a prison wall.      

See more at Public Art Fund (website).

Image by Walking Off the Big apple from October 25, 2017.

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Walking Off the Big Apple features self-guided tours to neighborhoods, streets, cultural history, good books, architecture, museums, parks, landscapes, and offbeat travel experiences in New York City.

Older posts will sometimes be updated to reflect relevant changes in the city, i.e. store or restaurant closings or transit information.

Writer and editor Teri Tynes created Walking Off the Big Apple in the summer of 2007.

As of January 2018, this website is updated only during bouts of nostalgia or when the writer feels compelled to share a fresh museum calendar.