When night falls and lights begin to dim, things become clearer for those who want to look deeper. For those people, the Amsterdam Light Festival gathers various artists to highlight the special beauty that does not appear unless one looks carefully after the last ray of the sun.
Starting from the 28th of November until the 19th of January, artistic installations made with different light techniques can be witnessed in the streets of Amsterdam reflecting various humanitarian concepts. This year, its 8th edition, the Amsterdam Light Festival gets global attention with its open-air exhibition – Disrupt- illuminating the far-reaching effects of war, natural destruction, and global warming in an aesthetic way. Installations take place in new neighborhoods this year with installations centering around Oosterdok, Oudeschans, Amstel, Nieuwe Keizersgracht, Plantage Muidergracht, and Entrepotdok.
In the paragraphs below, These are some of the installations made for this year that are representative and straight into the core of the theme – disrupt -.
A shadow of a dancing robot on Science Museum Nemo’s building is clearly seen through the nights of Amsterdam Light Festival. Nemo – the museum name – means “nobody” in Latin. This choice of location is meant to make the viewer wonder if the human of this age really matters, or just nobodies controlled by modern technology! And, who actually is pulling the strings?
Sea-Level Rise: Atlantis and Surface Tension
The whole earth is taking a one way street through climate change and sea-level rise. ًThe frozen poles are meant to keep the Earth cool and nutrient-rich. Huge numbers of animals immigrate annually to and from the poles, transmitting food, maintaining biological diversity, and keeping a stable environmental balance. With human’s unwise industrial practices, the frozen poles are the most affected by global warming. Each year, the poles gradually lose their stability as they are no longer frozen nor suitable for polar animals, which affects the whole global ecosystem. As the ice melts, annually, sea levels increase in new rates that were never meant to reach which threaten the whole planet with drowning.
Atlantis is an indication of the legendary sunken city of the same name. Showing the world’s most international cities drowning in the canals of Amsterdam is considered a strong emotional-based alert. The Utskottet Team – Olof Wiese and Edvin Buregren- understand this emotional bond between people and the world’s capital cities. Informatively, people are reminded of the climate crisis but they don’t seem to be concerned enough the act definitively and consistently. However, by watching them drown, a more powerful message may (hopefully) sent.
Along similar lines, Tom Biddulph & Barbara Ryan worked on Surface Tension. As dozens of cities are flooded every year, residents flee hopelessly searching for drier places. Surface Tension tried to turn the Entrepotdok canal into a drowned city street. Glowing silhouettes of swept-up cars, lamp posts, and traffic signs rise out of the water, making what is thought to be a faraway danger, very close and personal. It can be considered as a simulation of sea-level rise after effects.
Future is the watching past: The Nachtloerrrders and All The Light You See
Every simple action we make has consequences that we may not see. Soon, generations will be gone and new ones will take their place. This concept is also shown at the Amsterdam Light Festival by more than one installation. De Nachtloerrrders is the name of an installation that is made by schoolchildren aged 8 to 12 years old. Under the supervision of Light Festival’s school project and collaborating with Juf op Straat organization and the artists of 72andSunny, the children deliver a powerful message to the whole world. They are worried about the world they are going to inherit. Mysterious starry eyes are clearly visible across the canal from Entrepodpok Straat. These eyes show a possible future evolution. Observing eyes of Artis nocturnal animals is symbolizing a warning sign of what may happen if humans kept acting the same way towards nature.
As light takes about eight minutes to travel from our sun to earth, further stars take millions of years to light up our sky, which means that all the light we see is from the past. Using different techniques in delivering the same message, Alicia Eggert with her installation All The Light You See brought back neon signs used during the 20s. Recent people will be part of the past too, seen and judged later with what they’ve done to the world. It’s good to mention that All The Light You See also took place at Amsterdam Light Festival last year, proving that the simplest installations are the most absorbed.
Artis… Sleepwalk and Hiding in The Wolf’s Lair
During the night, Artis is one of the darkest places in Amsterdam which reveals how nature imposes its rules among all. In a unique experience, Artis Royal Zoo accompanies visitors in an after working hours trip by evening called Sleepwalk. As darkness requires certain adaptions people can be fascinated by the ability of the senses to adapt. This experience is supposed to be a reconnection between humans and nature that was lost long ago. In addition, lit-up wolves intertwine with the scene as they surround people hiding in an attic of one of the wooden buildings along the water.
In Hiding in the Wolf’s Lair, fear must come to an end. No more fear of ‘different’ people. The wolves stands for the ancient hostility between man and what he thinks of as ‘different’.
As the light festival is already taking place, edition #9 is also already taking shape. As the theme of the next edition is going to be When Nature Calls, the Amsterdam Light Festival will keep pushing the idea of living peacefully within our planet’s ecosystem. Not only this, but the edition also is a public stage for all artists to come up with new ways and techniques of helping earth and nature survive.