In the wake of Donald Trump’s election, it seems apropos to speak of walls. Yes, walls. In the current political climate, walls divide and separate. They draw the line between ‘us’ and ‘them’. In everyday life, they delineate and create the spaces we inhabit. Yet, these divisions are not always necessarily physical. In mainland China, for example, the Great Firewall restricts access to the internet. Abroad we might find it difficult to communicate because of the language barrier. In effect, it seems that walls stand between us and others, between us and the outside world.
In art and literature, however, walls sometimes come to stand for something else. In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” they come to criticize and denounce the rest cure and the patriarchy. In Virginia Woolf’s “The Mark on the Wall” they are the springboard for philosophical meditations. Whereas, in Finnegans Wake, Humpty Dumpty’s fall is in many ways the catalyst for James Joyce’s archetypal, kaleidoscopic, polyphonic, multilingual, and cyclical rewriting of history. In visual art, walls become the medium. With the application of paint or of plaster, walls are turned into murals and frescoes. In Mexico, for example, the politically charged murals of Los Tres Grandes unified people in the aftermath of the revolution. Despite appearing mundane and uninspiring, walls have symbolic value in political, religious, cultural, and artistic spheres.
In this issue of FORUM we seek and encourage contributions which engage with the concept of walls in its largest expression. We invite you to think about physical walls, psychological hurdles, and invisible barriers, whether they separate and divide or bring people together.
Many thanks to the following people for reviewing and editing this issue:
Chris Jardine*, Maja Petek, Shannon Ray*, Cleo O'Callaghan-Yeoman, Tia Byer, Molly Gilroy, Emma Lawson, Manon Berset, Natalie Wall*, Skylar Lanier*, Gabriel Smith, Maryam Ahmed, Alex Clader*, Elise Walter, Sini Eikonsalo*, Kiefer Holland*, Elise Walter, Dorothy Lawrenson*, Huzan Bharucha, Beata Migut, Sara Krolewski, and Scheherazade Khan
Dominic Richard and Rachel Chung, Editors-in-Chief