Monday, October 10, 2011

The Moving Wall by Karen Whitney (example)

The Moving Wall, made of painted aluminum panels, is a traveling version of Maya Lin’s black granite, site-specific Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington D.C. Upon viewing the memorial wall during its inaugural year in 1982, veteran John Devitt was inspired to build a traveling replica “to share the experience with those who did not have the opportunity to go to Washington.”1 “The Moving Wall is the only replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Other traveling memorials are simply replicas of The Moving Wall.” In other words, this is the original copy. For more than two decades this copy has been placed in front of countless institutions including schools, veteran’s centers, and cemeteries often attempting to create the recommended setting of “a grassy, park-like area with trees” which imitates the verdant environment of the original memorial along the mall in D.C.

There are, however, many differences with the mobile replica including its half scale, variable locale, and the level plane required to view the replica whose top (instead of the base) is angled, removing the poignant experience of the descent into the ground. Despite its many differences and designation as simulacrum, it attempts to recreate the significance of the original experience. Accompanying ceremony has become a traditional part of the moving wall to assist in recreating an atmosphere of honor and respect. Furthermore, it is recommended that host sites “keep boxes of Kleenex visible and easily accessible,” as a cue to visitors of the likelihood of an emotional experience, an experience which is actualized for many visitors as is evidenced by the items left at the moving wall, just as many have left items at the permanent memorial.