Ai Weiwei Good Fences Make Good Neighbors New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Breaking Down Walls: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors by Ai Weiwei



I grew up in Malaysia then moved to the United States as a young adult. Justin trailed along while his father’s highly transient career took him all over the country in his youth. So when it came time to make our own home, we fell into the normal trappings–we bought a house in a nice neighborhood in a state where it was sunny 299 days per year. But we found ourselves making regular trips to New York City that grew longer and more frequent, and soon we realized maybe it was more of a home to us than our house was. For us, home has never been about geography. It’s always been a feeling. A longing when you leave, and a pull to return.





Ai Weiwei Good Fences Make Good Neighbors New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Ai Weiwei Good Fences Make Good Neighbors New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Ai Weiwei Good Fences Make Good Neighbors New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Ai Weiwei Good Fences Make Good Neighbors New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Even though all my decisions to move have been voluntary, there are currently many people whose circumstances do not afford them the same luxury. Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei is familiar with that plight, having been exiled with his family in his youth due to his father’s political activities. Even though he came to New York City to study art, he returned to China and became an active dissident, where he was arrested then restricted from traveling for several years.

The proverb “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors” appears in the Robert Frost poem Mending Wall which was published in 1914, but the concept has been around a lot longer than that. Robert Frost’s poem deals with a wall, which perhaps has much more significance today than it did when he wrote it. From the poem:

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense





Ai Weiwei Good Fences Make Good Neighbors New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Ai Weiwei Good Fences Make Good Neighbors New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Ai Weiwei Good Fences Make Good Neighbors New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Ai Weiwei Good Fences Make Good Neighbors New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Ai Weiwei has fought tirelessly to break down walls, and his latest project for the Public Art Fund is no different. In multiple locations across the boroughs, cages and fences adorn public spaces to remind us of the barriers that exist, both real and perceived, in the world we live in. It’s easy to reduce immigration to a political issue. But besides having friends and family all over the world, we’ve had the great fortune to travel many places in our years. And I can tell you that what always strikes me is how we are more alike than we are different.

Ai Weiwei Good Fences Make Good Neighbors New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors will be on display through February 11 2018.



Pair it with:

Brunch at RedFarm

Ai Weiwei Good Fences Make Good Neighbors New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Ai Weiwei Good Fences Make Good Neighbors New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Ai Weiwei Good Fences Make Good Neighbors New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Ai Weiwei Good Fences Make Good Neighbors New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

The mission statement of RedFarm–to offer “Innovative, Inspired Chinese Cuisine with a Greenmarket Sensibility”–will likely inspire alarm in most Chinese food purists. But their concerns, in this case, are rather overwrought. Just as Ai Weiwei is a product of his Chinese upbringing and New York City education, RedFarm is a marriage of its Chinese food pedigree and West Village charm. Renowned dim sum chef Joe Ng and legendary restaurateur Ed Schoenfeld are a perfect match. Showstoppers like the Katz Pastrami Egg Roll (yeah, you read that right) and the ‘Pac Man’ Shrimp Dumplings (we couldn’t resist!) share a menu with the modest comfort-food feel of Vegetable Fried Rice and Grilled Jumbo Shrimp Red Curry. It’s a fresh take on some old favorites.

Location:
529 Hudson St

Hours:
Brunch Sat and Sun 11:00am – 2:30pm
Dinner
Mon – Sat 5:00pm – 11:45pm
Sun 5:00pm – 11:00pm

– L.

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19 Comments on "Breaking Down Walls: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors by Ai Weiwei"

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Polly Sipes
Guest

Saw the news this morning and thought of you. Love the Robert Frost quote.

JAM
Guest

Good post, relevant and thought provoking.

Tip
Guest

Loved it. We’ll be going to see some of these exhibits. Thanks again for showing us some pages of the New York book that we haven’t read yet.

lynn
Guest

These are nice photos, and I enjoyed your introduction, putting it all into perspective. (And the interactive map – cool!). Another artwork(s) I missed, but at least I saw the gilded cage as we went down Fifth Avenue. That one is well placed and has a nice impact; the Washington Square piece loks even stronger. I’m not sure about the impact a RedFarm pastrami egg roll would have on my stomach…but I’m sure I could find things to love on that menu. Thanks for posting about Ai Weiwei.

Suz
Guest

Yes, you are right Lynn, home is a feeling than a house 🙂 Love the photos, and I thought we had seen quite a bit of New York, apparently not, after viewing your interesting images!

Cathy
Guest

My girls need to come to NY to visit you- they would love the Pac-Man dumplings and the art! I love the installations and the important message. This was beautifully written!

Lauren
Guest

Great, thought-provoking post, especially after everything that’s been going on the last couple of days. Ai Weiwei is a fascinating person (as is his art!). Also, your food recs are top notch as per usual – Red Farm is SO good! I have never tried the pac man dumplings and I think I’ve been missing out – definitely on my next visit! 🙂

Dippy Dotty Girl
Guest

That poem has never been more relatable than now. It is such a pity. Anyway, maudlin thoughts apart, I loved the little insight into your past. xx

Sanityfound
Guest

Love the symbology of what he created, too true in so many ways! I’ll have to visit soon to get a glimpse. Is it a permanent feature or moving around?

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