For the fourth year in a row, light artists from Israel and Europe illuminated the streets of the Old City with original exhibits and performances. This year’s international light festival featured breathtaking light sculptures, interactive video presentations, musical exhibits, street performances, fire shows, large projections, music and movement.
By Avigayil Kadesh
Light exhibits, sculptures and artistic structures lit up Jerusalem’s Old City during “Jerusalem Lights 2012” on the evenings of June 6-14. It was the fourth and largest event yet in the capital city, held in combination with onstage and street performances – almost all free to the public.
Luminarie De Cagna’s “Cupola,” composed of 63,000 candles. Photo by Eduardo Hubscher
Under the direction of artistic director Eduardo Hubscher and produced by the Ariel Company, this year’s international light festival featured a dozen Israeli artists as well as talent from France, Portugal, Italy, Germany, England, Holland, Britain and Estonia — breathtaking light sculptures, interactive video presentations, musical exhibits, street performances, fire shows, large projections, music and movement.
The highlight this year was the connection between light and sound in two high-energy Israeli performances offered several times over the course of the week: “Currents,” an original show created specifically for the festival by the Mayumana group and a mime-circus-visual theater spectacular staged by Pyromania.
This new twist on Jerusalem nightlife draws approximately 250,000 visitors each year, according to the Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA), which initiated the festival four years ago in cooperation with the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Tourism and the Jerusalem municipality.
"The Light Festival is one of the most important cultural events in Jerusalem,” said JDA Chairman Moshe Leon. “The Old City, Israel’s key tourist attraction continues to be one of the Jerusalem Development Authority’s main projects. Following the success of the previous festivals, many artists approached us during the year requesting to participate in this year’s festival.”
Tour operators and Jerusalem’s hotels offered special packages for guests going to Jerusalem Lights, so the sidewalks and alleyways were filled with a mix of tourists and Israelis.
As in past years, the 2012 festival offered three separate routes to walk among the exhibits, marked by green, blue and orange strings of lights. Along the way were additional activities such as a designers’ fair where approximately 20 artists and galleries from across Israel offered original light-centered works for sale.
The essence of light
Mayumana’s "Currents" was inspired by the historical battle between electricity pioneers Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla, each side representing a different approach to the essence of light and electricity. The troupe used specially made musical instruments and massive video art projections on the walls of the Old City to demonstrate its unique language of movement, visual images, rhythm, technologies and original music.
Pyromania’s show was staged inside Zedekiah’s Cave, a large ancient quarry near the Damascus Gate. The show explored the exact science of light, dramatically revealing how light and darkness are in constant conflict and yet depend on each other.
Among other highlights:
• Ocubo: A Portuguese interactive virtual “ball game” where participants control the weather.
• Key Frames: The French group Laps used LED light pipes to create more than 60 characters, animated by choreographic light and music.
• Cathedral: Developed by Raoul Hurwitz from Estonia, this installation was made entirely out of salvaged old windows.
• Light Benches: A project of the German architect Bernd Spieker, these illuminated benches invited passers-by to rest and take in their surroundings.
• Faces of Jerusalem: The German artist Jan Ising’s three-dimensional exhibit presented a collection of projected photos of the people of the city, taken by Ising and Bartosh Navarra during April.
• The Enlightened Magic Circus: A magical journey through the Christian Quarter featuring 10 illuminated circus scenes that the German artist Nicola Dicke painted using her own special technique on slides.
• Shadows Story: Inside the Cardo, a restored Roman marketplace in the Old City, Israeli artist Adi Paz-Faingold presented a light-and-shadow version of “Hansel and Gretel.”
• Afterlight: A Dutch creation in the Cardo using dynamic photographs projected on the wall that created optical illusions accompanying an animated journey into the human brain.
• Cupola: This 25-meter-high dome-like structure composed of 63,000 candles by Italy’s Luminarie De Cagna was displayed at the Jaffa Gate, the main entrance into the Old City.
• Pitaya: A floating display of pollen and jellyfish made entirely out of plastic pipes and lit with LED bulbs, Pitaya hung in the air above the audience, courtesy of the Armenian Patriarchy.
• Dragons and other animals illuminated by innovative light technology by the Mystorin Theater Group celebrated the Chinese Year of the Dragon.
“The festival manages to surprise us every year, hosting local and international artists that present to us their professional and fantastic work," commented Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. "Jerusalem is a massive mosaic of people and communities, views and sites, smells and tastes that can all be found in the Old City.”