We spend a lot of time waiting in line — at the supermarket, at the bank, and, of course, the dreaded Starbucks morning rush. The Waiting Wall installation at the Brighton train station, though — which bears the distinction of being one of the busiest stations in the UK — turns a mundane ticket line into a hall of existential food for thought. Inspired by author Alain de Botton's secular imagining of Jerusalem's Wailing Wall, the art project features randomly-selected anonymous confessions about the pressures and anxieties of modern life.
"I measure my life in emotional connections. Sometimes I wonder I'll be lonely forever," reads one confession. Other topics range from coming to terms with past child abuse, pining for a best friend, and focusing on missed opportunities to the exclusion of living in the present. It's not exactly upbeat material, but the messages provide glimpses into cracks in the perfect lives we present on social media — which is exactly what musician and software developer Alan Donohoe and his creative partner, Stephen Parker, hoped to accomplish with the project.
"We’re constantly being told that we’ve got to be happy all the time... Acknowledging that you have problems worth sharing is still a big taboo in our society," Donohoe told the Guardian. The project's melancholic content stands in stark contrast to the brightly-colored ads that flash before and after each confession, driving home how modern life perpetuates a divide between outward projections of happiness and the existential dread underneath.
"It’s often when waiting, for something or someone, that there is the time to reflect. That can be uncomfortable or it can be a blessing: a break from rushing around where we are never quite alone with our thoughts," the creators write on the Waiting Wall's website.
Although the Waiting Wall peeks at the darker side of modern life, Donohoe told the Guardian that he hopes it provides perspective for readers. "There’s some consolation in knowing that we haven’t been singled out for persecution, and that we’re all battling the same things," he said.
The project runs from Sept. 21 through 27, but an extension to other cities is already in the works. In fact, according to the Guardian, de Botton has even commissioned a version of the wall for his website.