Ai Weiwei Arch 2017
Embodying the very principles of the Brilliant Minds Foundation, Ai Weiwei’s Arch seeks to emphasize our capacity for change. Indeed, the tangible impact of Arch was witnessed first-hand when it was displayed in Washington Square Park from October 2017 to February 2018. In the wake of the project, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed a commission to study public monuments across the city, with the aim to identify ‘symbols of hate.’ Inspirationally, Weiwei has proven that all it takes to instigate change is one first step.
In a time of political divisiveness, an unprecedented refugee crisis, and global waves of isolationist sentiment, Arch offers a powerful and thought-provoking message that reflects the uncertainty of the times we live in and the need for brilliant minds around the world to meet the challenge of change. Through its 40-foot-tall structure, perfected in polished stainless steel and reminiscent of a birdcage, Ai Weiwei, a refugee himself, creates an ode to freedom, using the silhouette of intertwined human figures to represent the free passage of all populations, and appealing for a world without borders.
Providing an opportunity for Arch to be made visible is absolutely essential for the promotion and protection of freedom of speech. As Weiwei has said: “The function of art is not about right or wrong, but rather to offer an opportunity for people to make their own judgment.” Public art does not just enrich a community aesthetically, but also raises awareness and prompts viewers to question their own assumptions. As more people access art and see themselves reflected in public spaces, a greater sense of collaboration becomes possible, enabled by the power of connection and representation.