Light the Barricades

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 James A. Reeves 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 were 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 before being displayed as a series 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 5, 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.