Journalism is serious business. It takes grit, integrity, instinct and sometimes walking almost nine kilometers in minus twenty-five Celsius to get the story. Therefore, my gift to you dear reader, are these words and a frozen nose.
I enjoy Lux each year, as it is a uniquely Finnish experience; shuffling about in the dead of winter, eyes all aglow of the visual delights projected on a variety of public spaces. As it is the year of Finland’s 100th anniversary of independence, the Finn factor was pumped up on the installations in that even Marimekko had their finger in the pie.
The Lux organizers encouraged people to follow a route and to experience the installations in a certain order, starting with Jenni Kääriäinen’s work entitled A Shade at the Espa stage in the Esplanadi park. While not creepy or violent, A Shade was definitely dark and haunting, as it is a collection of thousands of anonymous x-rays are lit up from the back with a somber score composed by Aake Otsala. From a North American perspective, it was very Halloween feeling and maybe not the best choice for sensitive children prone to scary dreams. But it did have an impact turning the usual Lux burst of happy energy on its ear and introducing an edgier atmospheric current running through it.
Next was a serving of the usual Lux faire, architecturally significant buildings lit up in a host of candy-colored shades; this time it was City Hall down to the Presidential Palace that was on display. There was an observation tower erected in Market Square perfect for viewings, however, this writer decided that -25 plus metal plus stairs equaled disaster, so the show was taken in on street level.
The rest of Lux had people skirting in, out and around the back and front of Senate Square, with many using the concept of Finnish nature as a jumping off point. Shader’s Cube riffed off of the dance between technology and the earth while Teemu Lehmusruusu’s The Land Beneath Our Feet, kept the viewer entrenched in the natural world. Outi Pieski’s Gorži draws on the Sami belief that humans are equal to nature and interprets this as having projected water flow from the Helsinki Cathedral Chapel windows. Renowned Finnish textile designer Maija Louekari had her forest-based Marimekko creation brought to life via animation on the wall of the Bank of Finland. In her creation, woodland creatures interact with each other and it is a simple but joyous display of the Finnish love of nature.
The crown jewel of Lux 2017 has to be the Flowers of Life installation at the University of Helsinki’s Topelia building courtyard. Using UV light paint and black lights, Flowers of Life brought the exuberance of nature to the depths of the dark Finnish winter. Various fictitious plants were brought to life in the space and the effect was a psychedelic garden that is not to be missed.
Lux ends at Senate Square on an interactive bang with the work Light Pipes by Rölli Ridanpää and Tero Laine that focuses on Urban living as opposed to the celebration of nature that was largely Lux to that point. Both little and big hands alike have the opportunity control various valves that either light up a bulb, or take its brilliance away. Apart from being visually striking in all of its copper piping and lightbulb glory, it is a chance for fidgeting little one’s work some of their energy off!
Lux as always put on a family-friendly evening that is a constant juxtaposition of dazzling lights and new technologies coupled with a narrative of where the natural world fits into our ever changing urbanized living. Bundle up, have some hot cocoa on the ready and enjoy.
Lux 2017 – On January 5–9 2017. All works will be displayed between 17:00 and 22:00 without interruption. For the map and program, see here.