Art in the face of adversity: lots to learn from Fahey’s Phonehenge West

In Acton, California, one man has spent nearly half his life building a remarkable structure–and now he is facing persecution for his intensive labor of love. The City of Los Angeles has slapped multiple violations on Kim Fahey, a self-taught builder who built the bulk of his property without permits. The catch? The city wouldn’t issue the permits Fahey initially requested; their reasoning was largely superficial, and based on bureaucratic reasoning despite Fahey’s honest efforts to work within the parameters of building regulations. On top of all this, when Fahey attempted to present an expert witness to testify the safety and solidity of the structures, the court refused to admit his witness.

Fahey’s buildings are more than simply a building project run amok; they are a work of art and a testament to what inspiration and creative labor can bring into existence. I’m really supposed to be writing about something else right now, for a deadline just minutes away, but the story of Phonehenge West strikes a deep chord with me–both as a remarkable feat and, sadly, another example of the lack of logic applied in the name of justice. Fahey faces jail and thousands of dollars in fines, along with the imminent destruction of his 25-year endeavor. But you know what? Fahey didn’t do all this to make trouble. Whatever happens, he’ll continue building–just not in California, he has told reporters. We’ll miss you, Fahey…I’m sure you’ll receive tons of support where-ever you decide to resurrect your monument.

Major Kudos to Devin Schiro, who composed the following documentary and alighted me to Fahey’s plight.

Phonehenge West from Devin Schiro on Vimeo.

Update 7/13/11: Phonehenge West was raided today. The electricity was shut off, the animals were impounded, and everyone was forced off the property. Will Fahey’s creation be just a memory?


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