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.
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 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.
Good Fences Make Good Neighbors will be on display through February 11 2018.
Pair it with:
Brunch at RedFarm
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.
529 Hudson St
Brunch Sat and Sun 11:00am – 2:30pm
Mon – Sat 5:00pm – 11:45pm
Sun 5:00pm – 11:00pm