“Existential” – the theme of this year’s Amsterdam Light Festival is about how the essential element of light helps to meet the basic needs and dreams of man. The artworks have been created to show how tangible light can be and how we, as humans, regard light as a certainty in our world.
My parents came to the Netherlands to visit me over the past few days so amongst other things, we went to Amsterdam for the day to experience the Amsterdam Light Festival. This festival takes place from November-January and has a water exhibition and a land exhibition. The water exhibition is seen by boat and there are various boat companies who are official providers for the festival. The land exhibition has changed slightly this year and instead of a walking route through the city, the displays will be concentrated around Marineterrein Amsterdam, an area not too far from Centraal Station.
The land exhibition doesn’t start until 14 December but we’d booked tickets through Groupon with BoatAmsterdam.com for the opening evening of the water exhibition on 30 November. I booked with this company because they offer covered boats, comfortable, warm seating and unlimited drinks for €20 per person. The drinks offering included beer, gluhwein, soft drinks and water.
I did the last walking route in January this year and it was wonderful so I was really looking forward to this festival. I haven’t been on a trip around the Amsterdam canals so that was a nice experience in itself as well. The light artworks were pretty awesome too though. Here are some of my favourite ones…
Be the change that you want to see in the world – Bagus Pandega. Using flashing lights usually found on emergency services vehicles, this artwork displays the famous Gandhi quote.
Infinita – Balmond Studio. Shaped as a fractal, a shape that can be infinitely split or multiplied into the same form, this artwork pushes us to ask whether existence is only tangible, visible things or whether it is so much more complex and unseen than that.
A necessary darkness – Rona Lee. This moving projection of a lighthouse on the side of the NEMO Science Museum looks at how we live in such an illuminated world and often fear the insecurity of darkness but also considers whether we do still need darkness as much as we need light.
Homeward bound – Victor Engbers. Replicating the effects caused by a phenomenon called St Elmo’s fire, seen on ships during thunderstorms and regarded by sailors as a good omen, this artwork had me mesmerised and I found it strangely calming to watch it on this beautiful old ship.
Light matters – ACTLD. Suspended amongst the trees, this illumination serves to remind us to treasure natural light in a world so lit up by artificial light.
Thinline – Ai Wei Wei. The red line of light in the Light matters photo shows just a small section of this artwork that runs round the entire 6.5km water exhibition route, trailing up and under bridges, through trees, and along the water line. This continuous line symbolises the actual and figurative boundaries we experience in life.
It was once drifting… – Claudia Reh. Made using the artwork of local primary school children, this display focuses on how something truly beautiful can be made from something as simple as a child’s drawing.
There were plenty of other artworks that also had us smiling, pondering their meaning, and just taking some time to experience this really excellent festival. Here’s a couple more…
Windows – Lynne Leegte
The life of a slime mold – Nicole Banowetz
MYTH – Ben Zamora
The water exhibition is on until 21 January so you’ve got time for a little post-Christmas, new year trip to Amsterdam to see it. I really recommend it as it was thought-provoking, fun and just really cool to see. Let me know if you end up going. I’d love to hear what your favourite artworks were.