Annenberg Community Beach House, 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.

Spanning four sites across the Los Angeles area, Light the Barricades is a series of electrified shrines. Combining the anatomy of billboards with the rituals of pilgrimage and silent contemplation, this work 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 world’s oldest texts, 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.

Shining a light on the difficult emotions that thwart our progress, 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. Passersby are invited to walk alongside 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.

The Doubt wall on the beach in Santa Monica

Commissioned by the Annenberg Space for Photography, these solar-powered lightboxes first appeared at Grand Park, the Annenberg Community Beach House, and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County before the Annenberg Space for Photography presented them as a collection 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 museum’s gallery, this project encouraged visitors to anonymously share their challenges while considering the experiences of others through an audio-video installation of selected responses. Over 3,000 handwritten reflections were collected, many of which are featured in a book about the project. Chang and Reeves created an original soundtrack for the gallery installation, which appeared in an anthology of ambient music by Brooklyn label Mysteries of the Deep.

Grand Park, Los Angeles
Grand Park, Los Angeles

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. On view at the Annenberg Space for Photography from October 3 through December 29, 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 Dr. Jen Sudul Edwards. Project management by Stephanie Brown.