Arts in the News: Ai Weiwei and his NYC Fence Project, 10-Year-Old ‘Little Picasso’ and more.

Ai Weiwei to Embark on NYC Fence Project
As one of the world’s most famous living artists, Ai Weiwei tends to garner a lot of attention when he embarks on a new project, and his latest is no different. His “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors” project is set to come to New York City this fall; the exhibition will use the concept of a security fence as its central visual theme. An activist as well as an artist, Ai’s piece is reportedly inspired by the “international migration crisis and current global geopolitical landscape.” Commissioned by the Public Art Fund, the project will span all five boroughs and involve over 300 separate locations and hundreds of individual pieces. Wary of reducing the piece to a comment on the debate over a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, director and chief curator of Public Art Fund Nicholas Baume explains: “Ai Weiwei’s work is extraordinarily timely, but it’s not reducible to a single political gesture. The exhibition grows out of his own life and work, including his childhood experience of displacement during the Cultural Revolution, his formative years as an immigrant and student in NYC in the 1980s, and his more recent persecution as an artist-activist in China. It reflects his profound empathy with other displaced people, particularly migrants, refugees and victims of war.” Surely many New Yorkers and visitors alike will be inspired and moved by the ambitious city-wide project! “Good Fences” is set to open to the public on October 12 and run through mid-February.

10-Year-Old ‘Little Picasso’ Stuck at Refugee Center

10-year-old Farhad Nouri, a young Afghan boy living in a refugee center on the outskirts of Belgrade, has been nicknamed “Little Picasso” for his prodigious artistic ability. Farhad lives in the center with his parents and two younger brothers, alongside more than 600 fellow migrants and refugees. Thanks to the Refugees Foundation, a group based in Belgrade, Farhad had his first art exhibition in August of this year. Many see the young artist as an example of the untold potential lost among stranded migrants and refugees; the European regional director of the International Rescue Committee, Elinor Raikes, argues: “Farhad is such a striking example of all the talent and human potential that is being wasted and put on hold among these thousands of people who are stranded.” Farhad’s exhibition, held in a cafe in Belgrade, allowed him to sell photos and scanned copies of his drawings, raising about 335USD for a boy in Belgrade recovering from brain surgery. Farhad also raised 735USD by selling eleven original drawings. The young artist’s reputation has brought him in contact with with some celebrities, including Serbian pop star Ceca and American actor Mandy Patinkin. What does Farhad want to learn next? Animation. To read more about Farhad’s story and to see some of his impressive drawings, read the New York Times article about him <HERE>.

A New Sci-Fi Magazine Written & Edited by Persons with Disabilities
An upcoming magazine called “Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction” is hoping to “put disabled voices at the center of the narrative,” as writer and activist Elsa Sjunneson-Henry explains. Staffed and written entirely by persons with disabilities, the magazine has released three editions, currently raising money for a fourth on Kickstarter. Sjunneson-Henry, who works as the editor of the nonfiction works, explains: “I want to make it so that able-bodied readers can’t look away from, or explain away ableism. I hope that we can give authors hope, who felt their narratives weren’t welcome….But most importantly, I hope we give our disabled community stories they’ve longed for. To me, that’s the most important piece. That we give everyone as much of an opportunity to see themsleves as possible.” The magazine features fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and personal essays. It has already surpassed its $22K Kickstarter goal by $20K. Hopefully this incredible publication continues to thrive and bring imaginative new voices and identities to the world of science fiction writing!

How Netflix Uses Anticipation to Keep You Wanting More
Wired Magazine’s Jason Parham argues that Netflix’s most underrated power is its ability to use anticipation to keep viewers hooked. From just July and August, the streaming giant announced the following: second seasons of both “Ozark” and “Glow,” a Jerry Seinfeld special, a new young adult series “with supernatural twists,” a multiyear contract with showrunner Shonda Rhimes, an interview series hosted by David Letterman, a feature comedy with Ali Wong and Randall Park, 12 new anime series and a Godzilla movie, a biopic of Gore Vidal starring Kevin Spacey, and an adaptation of the bestselling novel “Nappily Ever After.” Netflix subscribers are constantly bombarded with announcements for new seasons and programs–and to what end? A long game, argues Parham, that plays at the streaming service constantly being at the center of conversations about the media landscape. Each new announcement serves to heighten the anticipation of what’s next. With much-anticipated releases such as the second season of the popular nostalgic series “Stranger Things” being continually lined up, the Netflix buzz is sure to continue for quite some time!

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