Art

Artist Ai Weiwei takes an artistic stand against Trump

05 December 2017 - 11:07 By AFP
'Gilded Cage' by Ai Weiwei.
'Gilded Cage' by Ai Weiwei.
Image: Supplied

He's worked his way through refugee camps, capturing the stories of migrants across the world. Celebrated Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has brought the fruits of his labour to New York, scattering more than 300 works across the metropolis.

Weiwei's most ambitious outdoor project to date, Good Fences Make Good Neighbours - which takes its name from a line in a poem by Robert Frost - will run until mid-February.

It's a love letter to a city the artist called home from 1983 to 1993, and a new illustration of his empathy for refugees worldwide - stemming from his own experience of being exiled after his father, a poet, was branded an enemy of the Chinese state.

We are living at a time when there's no tolerance, divided - they are trying to separate us by colour, race, religion, nationality
Ai Weiwei

"I need to pay back my love," Weiwei insisted at a press conference in Central Park, honouring "a city [where] every young artist wants to be", where "you never feel you are a foreigner".

But the location of one of his large-scale works - Gilded Cage installed at the southeast entrance of Central Park - is not a coincidence.

Visible from the heights of Trump Tower, where Donald Trump famously lived in a gold apartment, Weiwei says he "made it gold to please" the US president, of whom he is a staunch critic.

"The travel ban, the wall to be built between the US and Mexico which is unthinkable policy," the artist, who now lives between Berlin and Beijing, said. "We are living at a time when there's no tolerance, divided - they are trying to separate us by colour, race, religion, nationality ..."

Weiwei's city-wide exhibition is a gesture welcomed by New York, something of a sanctuary in the midst of the Trump administration's anti-immigration agenda. 

This article was originally published in The Times.

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