Announcing the groundbreaking new photo exhibit that explores the use of walls across civilizations and over centuries – plus, “Light the Barricades,” a companion multi-site public art installation
Annenberg Space for Photography, L.A.’s premier destination for photography, explores the creation and use of walls over centuries and across civilizations with its new exhibition, W|ALLS: Defend, Divide, and the Divine. The show also includes the companion interactive public art installation Light the Barricades, located at three separate locations around the city, before coming together for presentation on the plaza just outside the Photo Space for the duration of the W|ALLS exhibit.
Annenberg Space for Photography is a cultural destination dedicated to exhibiting both digital and print photography in an intimate environment. The space features state-of-the-art, high-definition digital technology, traditional prints by some of the world’s most renowned photographers, and a selection of emerging photographic talents as well. The venue, an initiative of the Annenberg Foundation and its trustees, is the first solely photographic cultural destination in the Los Angeles area, creating a new paradigm in the world of photography.
Opening October 5, W|ALLS: Defend, Divide, and the Divine examines the artistic, social, and political use of walls throughout history. From the Berlin Wall and Jerusalem’s Western Wall, to the Great Wall of China – as well as barriers built in India, Nigeria, Uzbekistan, Northern Ireland, and along the United States’ southern border – the exhibition delves into our long history of building walls and defining territories.
The exhibit is divided into six sections: Delineation, Defense, Deterrent, The Divine, Decoration, and The Invisible. In each section, the work of photographers and artists – who have trained their eye on walls of all kinds throughout the world – will examine their architectural role in society, and the effects they have on the people who live near them. The section meanings overlap and change over time, much like the walls themselves – erected for one reason, their appearance and use is altered and modified, reflecting the civilizations that have grown and evolved around them. The show is curated by Dr. Jen Sudul Edwards, the Chief Curator and Curator of Contemporary Art at the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina.
W|ALLS features more than 70 artists, including Carol Guzy, Moises Saman, SHAN Wallace, Banksy, JR, John Moore, Marina Abramović, and Tanya Aguiñiga. Many of these featured photographers and artists will be included in a new, original documentary commissioned by the Annenberg Foundation exclusively for the exhibition.
“The Annenberg Space for Photography has a long history of exploring our shared humanity around the world,” said Annenberg Foundation Chairman, President, and CEO Wallis Annenberg. “The W|ALLS exhibit will encourage visitors to explore the complex and multifaceted use of walls and challenge preconceived notions of why we build them. With Light the Barricades, we’re also offering public spaces for reflection and solidarity.”
Light the Barricades is the Annenberg Space for Photography’s first foray into public art. From September 6 through September 22, the walls will be installed at three locations across Los Angeles– the Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica, Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles, and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in Exposition Park.
The installation consists of three 8′ x 27′ solar-powered walls illuminated from within (similar to a photographer’s lightbox) at all hours and features a fable on one side and a station for visitor reflection on the other. Created by Candy Chang (the artist behind the popular Before I Die public art project) and James A. Reeves, Light the Barricades was inspired by the I Ching, one of the oldest Chinese texts. Each wall will feature a word in large text that represents an emotional barrier: Resentment, Judgment, and Doubt. Offering an engaging opportunity for contemplation – both physically and emotionally – these walls shine a light on the difficult emotions that face individuals every day.
“When we considered how walls are used today, our first thought was the advertising that covers our cities. We want to translate the language of billboards into a contemporary ritual for contemplation, perhaps even a moment of humility,” said Candy Chang and James A. Reeves. “We selected the topics of resentment, judgment, and doubt not only because these emotions are largely universal, but they feel especially resonant today. They echo the psychosocial dynamics defining the current American mood. By reckoning with these barriers at a personal level, perhaps we can become more compassionate in our public life.”
Light the Barricades‘ three separate lightboxes will ultimately be presented together as one installation at the Photo Space in Century City for the duration of W|ALLS: Defend, Divide and the Divine, from October 5 through December 29, 2019.
“As a former Angeleno, I have visited the Annenberg Space for Photography often, and have learned much about the beauty and difficulties in our world through its illuminating shows,” said curator Dr. Jen Sudul Edwards. “Photography documents the human condition with a visual language broadly understood, capturing even the most delicate, complicated, urgent, and uplifting circumstances. The Annenberg Space for Photography offers a place to come together and contemplate our shared history and humanity; I’m honored to have been invited to curate W|ALLS and Light the Barricades and to contribute to that decade-long legacy.”
Annenberg Space for Photography will also offer a variety of public programs to coincide with the exhibition, including unique workshops, educational and participatory panels, and conversations, as well as field trips, family activities, and more.