I started this series in 2013 and still don't understand why, aesthetically, other than that walls are ubiquitous, and not just physically but conceptually, buried deep in our psyches, dividing up the ways we think and live in the world.
Rather than a tidy explanation, here's a mishmash of thoughts I've been chewing over:
It's the age of walls. And not just Trump's wall or Israeli's "apartheid wall," the obvious examples. At the fall of the Berlin Wall, 16 countries had border walls. Now 65 do, a third of the world's states.
"The one thing all these walls have in common is that their main function is theatre. You can't dismiss that illusion, it's important to people, but they provide the sense of security, not real security." (Marcello Di Cintio, Walls: Travels Along the Barricades)
Okay, but let's not play too fast and loose with the need for security. The call for it can be abused, sure, but real security is still important. Just ask a homeless person, who lives without the protection of walls. "Home" is an enclosure of four walls. Good fences make good neighbours.
Yeah, but: "The wall that protects you, also imprisons you." (Susan Jeffers, psychologist)
And: "The walls have ears, ears that hear each little sound you make every time you stamp, throw a lamp." (Elvis Presley)
And maybe: "Yet there are moments when the walls of the mind grow thin; when nothing is unabsorbed, and I could fancy that we might blow so vast a bubble that the sun might set and rise in it and we might take the blue of midday and the black of midnight and be cast off and escape from here and now." (Virginia Woolf, The Waves)
Aren't membranes, so crucial to living beings, walls, only both porous and resistant at the same time? Hmmm...
"But it was only fantasy. The wall was too high, as you can see. No matter how he tried, he could not break free. And the worms ate into his brain." (Pink Floyd, "The Wall")