2012-06-23

Co.Exist

Luzinterruptus Creates Stunning Light Installations To Call Attention To Urban Decay

An anonymous artistic troupe in Madrid shines literal lights on the darkest examples of environmental degradation and urban blight--all in an effort to enlighten discourse about public spaces.

Using light as their materials, and the darkness of night as their canvas, the anonymous art troupe known as Luzinterruptus has deployed gorgeous "interventions" in Spain and around Europe. Formed in Madrid in 2008, Luzinterruptus aims to illuminate examples of pollution, blight, urban decay, and other problems that go unnoticed (or at least unaddressed) by city authorities and other citizens.

The most recent of their interventions is Basura Plástica Custodiando Museo (Plastic Garbage Guarding the Museum), for which they arranged a mound of illuminated plastic bags out front of Gewerbemuseum of Winthertur museum in Switzerland as part of the exhibition Oh, Plastiksack! The artists invited museum-goers to exchange plastic bags for tickets to the exhibit, and assembled this illuminated statue. The irony--not lost on the artists--is that although this exhibit is temporary (as are all their installations), plastic bags never biodegrade*, meaning they take up permanent residence in landfills and in the form of litter in the environment.

Previous installations have been more illicit: Cosas Que Sería Mejor Que Estuvieran Limpias (Things That Would Be Better If They Were Clean) calls attention to the decay of the formerly state-owned Telefonica building in Plaza de España by placing 100 pristine white cloths in front of the filthy, abandoned building.

The haunting yet humorous images of Control Radiactivo (Radioactive Control) reveal an army of 100 ghostly figures in HAZMAT suits, marching with a zombie-like gait in a field in Germany. The installation calls attention not only to potential pitfalls of nuclear energy, but also the ways a country can manipulate the discourse surrounding its use and abuse. In other words, Germany’s vow to ween itself off of nuclear power might not be as altruistic as it seems.

Other interventions include Sombrillas en Playa de Obras (Parasols on the Beach Under Construction), which placed 200 illuminated cocktail umbrellas atop a long-fallow construction site (located not far from a fashionable area where no such blight occurs). And with Piscina Sobre Fondo de Campo de Cebada (Pool on a Background of Field of Barley), they call attention to the popular Spanish picnic spot Plaza de la Cebada, which saw its pool demolished in 2008 (with the promise that it would be rebuilt within two years). By May 2012, no replacement had been made, so Luzinterruptus created their own, out of 2,000 transparent plastic containers.

With every installation, the troupe reminds viewers that you can’t brighten up your city without paying attention to its darkest places.

All photos by Gustavo Sanabria.

*Although plastic bags never biodegrade, they do photodegrade, and estimates range from 500 to 1,000 years for that to happen.

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