Annenberg Space for Photography, 2019

Light the Barricades

The ancient I Ching goes electric in Los Angeles.

Annenberg Community Beach House, Santa Monica
The Doubt wall on the beach in Santa Monica
Detail of the Doubt wall | | Annenberg Community Beach House, Santa Monica
Detail of the Doubt wall on the beach | Annenberg Community Beach House, Santa Monica
The Resentment wall at Grand Park, Los Angeles
The Resentment wall at Grand Park, Los Angeles
Contemplation at the Resentment wall in Grand Park, Los Angeles | Photo by Annenberg Space for Photography
Detail of the Doubt wall | Grand Park, Los Angeles
The Judgment wall on the steps of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
The Judgment wall on the steps of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
The Doubt wall on the beach in Santa Monica

We were distracted. We were stuck. We were cruel. We wanted to reflect and atone, but we found only billboards shredding our attention and screens destroying our dignity. So we sought new rituals for sitting side by side while contemplating the barricades within.

Light the Barricades reimagines the wall as a site for contemplating our inner obstructions in an age of distraction. Shining a light on the difficult emotions that thwart our progress, this public installation is inspired by the ancient I Ching, a philosophical system of diagrams first carved into the wall of a prison cell three thousand years ago. Believed to be one of the oldest books in the world, the I Ching provides a guide for weathering the flux of life, particularly the emotional obstacles of resentment, judgment, and doubt—qualities that increasingly seem to dominate American life today. Emphasizing the value of communal as well as personal introspection, the I Ching reminds us that “keeping still when faced with obstruction provides an opportunity to turn inward and resolve our difficulties.”

Inspired by these instructions, Candy Chang and I created a series of three electrified shrines that combines the wisdom of the I Ching with the rituals of pilgrimage and silent contemplation observed by the world’s faiths. Illuminated from within, each lightbox represents an emotional barrier that fuses the widescreen perspective of Chinese landscape paintings with today’s textures of metal, noise, and alienating architecture. Light the Barricades offers a ritual that invites passersby to walk along the border of each lightbox while reading an illustrated fable before sitting for a five-minute reflection with an illuminated hourglass and a pointed question about resentment, judgment, or doubt.

Commissioned by the Annenberg Space for Photography, the lightboxes are located at Grand Park, the Annenberg Community Beach House, and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County from September 6 through September 22, 2019 and will then be displayed at the Annenberg Space for Photography from October 5 through December 29, 2019 as part of Walls: Defend, Divide, and the Divine, an exhibit that examines the historical use and artistic treatment of walls over centuries. Extending into the gallery, Light the Barricades also encourages visitors to anonymously share their inner obstructions while considering the experiences of others through a video installation of select responses. By reconfiguring the experience of Chinese landscape scrolls, luminaries, and private devotional images, Light the Barricades provides a modern ritual for these distracting times.

Los Angeles, 2019. On view at Grand Park, the Annenberg Community Beach House, and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County from September 5 through September 22, 2019. Opens at the Annenberg Space for Photography on October 3, 2019.

Three 27′ w x 8′ h lightboxes; 21′ x 18′ gallery installation. Lightboxes: Chinese ink, photomontages, solar panels, aluminum, polycarbonate, vinyl, LED lights, concrete. Gallery: concrete, projection, audio.

Commissioned by Katie Hollander and the Annenberg Space for Photography. Exhibition curated by Jen Sudul Edwards. Project management by Stephanie Brown.

Light the Barricades Preview.
Time-lapse of an installation on the beach at the Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica.
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