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As an exile and immigrant for most of his life, Ai Weiwei confronted the global refugee crisis in his 2017-2018 exhibition ‘Good Fences Make Good Neighbors.’ Taking the title from Robert Frost’s poem ‘Mending Wall,’ Weiwei hoped to convey not only the devastation of the migration crisis, but also how humanity uses populist rhetoric to stir up fear and prejudice, and divide the population. Depicting a portion of the mural, ‘Odyssey’ draws attention to the trials facing refugees in the style of a narrative Greco-Roman frieze.
Published by Public Art Fund, New York
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Perhaps the best known contemporary artist of the present day, as well as the most controversial, Ai Weiwei's (Chinese, b. 1957) oeuvre spans a plethora of mediums: sculpture, photography, filmmaking, and architecture. Irreverent and unafraid of making waves, he boldly takes on the topics of nationalism, politics, consumerism, and the rise of globalism in his work, leading to several clashes with the Chinese government and his temporary house arrest in 2010. Weiwei's work regularly adopts and reimagines traditional Chinese crafts, such as porcelain, gongsh ("scholar rocks"), decorative arts, and bronze statuary. His architectural achievements include the erection of the Bird's Nest for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.