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Ai Weiwei's Refugee Crisis Artworks Are Looking For a Home

Public Art Fund and eBay for Charity collaborate on the sale of limited-edition banners from the artist's recent “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors" project in New York City.

Eight months ago, Ai Weiwei brought the global refugee crisis to New York with “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors,” a citywide project with Public Art Fund that installed several monumental cagelike sculptures and 200 unique lamppost banners bearing portraits of migrants and refugees. While the artworks have since been removed from the city, the issues the pieces sought to expose most certainly have not.

Today, in commemoration of World Refugee Day, Public Art Fund and eBay for Charity are returning Ai’s project to public discourse with a sale of limited-edition portrait banners benefiting USA for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Rescue Committee (IRC), and the Fund’s own mission to promote accessible art.

Made with the same industrial vinyl and laser-cutting technique as the originals, the six 17″ x 48″ portrait banners (half the scale of the ones that hung throughout the city) will be sold in a limited run of 500, with individual banners going for $750 and a set of all six costing $4,500. The six designs draw from the range of banners Ai created—including portraits shot by Augustus Sherman of immigrants at Ellis Island, images of well-known refugees like Sigmund Freud and Emma Goldman, and the artist’s own contemporary portraits taken during visits to 40 refugee camps—representing a diversity of geography, gender, and time periods.

The six banners on sale. (Photo: Courtesy Public Art Fund and eBay)

“In many ways this sale is a natural extension of Public Art Fund’s mission, [Ai’s] body of work, and eBay’s values,” Nicholas Baume, Public Art Fund director and chief curator, wrote via email. “This sale enables a broad audience, including both serious longtime collectors and those who are just starting out, to bring a piece of this landmark exhibition by the most famous artist in the world into their homes.”

The sale began at 12 p.m. today and continues through June 27, or until all banners are sold.

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