As days shorten, Como’s fascination with urban art installations focuses on the use of new lighting technologies – as evidenced from now until November 27th in the 8208 Lighting Design Festival. The festival takes the 8208 of its title from the name of an asteroid dedicated to Alessandro Volta – and thus onto the idea that Volta’s birthplace is a fitting location for a festival celebrating the artistic possibilities of electrical modern lighting technology. So, as with Streetscape (see recent article), Como’s centre is now populated by a series of art installations by both national and international artists that aim to redefine their urban settings.
There are in fact five of these installations as indicated on the plan illustrated here. The festival also encompasses five separate events, three exhibitions and two workshops. Details of the exhibitions are available from the Visit Como site whilst more details of the entire festival can be found on its own Internet site which is only available in Italian. However each installation is accompanied by a description of the artist and of its conceptual basis .
‘Orbital Trajectory’ consists of some thin lines of light under the Broletto’s portico which are subtle in their impact with their spider-web delicacy contrasting with the solidity of the Broletto’s pillars and the physicality of the building itself. It is designed by Carlo Bernardini. Unfortunately it proved difficult for me to capture a good image of the installation so this is definitely one to view for yourselves.
‘Human?’ by artist Sophie Guyot comes together as a legible image as you walk past the front of the theatre and view the portico head on. At this point all the separate elements of light align together to pose the question as to whether our communal and individual behaviour can be considered human given both recent historical and current events.
Piazza San Fedele
This installation entitled ‘Fragments of Reality’ is the only one that works with both natural and artificial light so not dependent on Alessandro Volta’s legacy. It consist of a series of small disks suspended across the entrance way to Via Odescalchi on the southern end of the Piazza. These disks simply reflect light from existing sources. As with the Broletto installation, this is subtle in effect. It is well placed within this medieval corner of the old town and best viewed as you enter the piazza from the north end. The artist is Alessandro Lupi.
‘Limen’ by Olo Creative Farm is the most interactive of the installations. With powerful beams that swing dramatically up and down to accompanying sound effects, it attracts a lot of attention from passers-by. The range of six or so light beams shine down by default but swivel up and out through the tower whenever anyone stands on their static position.
Molo di Viale Geno
This is called ‘Rhizome’ by the artist Tom Dekyvere and it is accompanied by one of the more surrealistic descriptions of its conceptual basis. I have no idea what is meant by ‘a rare eruption of beauty in the nostalgic mirror of our future’ but I salute the fantasy of whoever composed the phrase. The installation itself is best experienced by walking along the mole and thus within the web of light strands that build towards a chaotic crescendo. But take care, the water is close by and cold and the strong lights intensify the shadows. For me this was the most impactful of the installations.
So to conclude, these five installations all vary in intent and possibly also in their degree of success (from my personal perspective of course). As with Streetscape the hyperbole that this will ‘change the urban context of Como’ must be treated as artistic licence however the installations do sit interestingly within their individual architectural settings. And, as also with Streetscape, there are plenty of residents and visitors out there tracking them down.
By the time these installations are dismantled after November 27th, Como will be differently illuminated by the usually spectacular light shows on its principal buildings and landmarks – a now regular part of a Como Christmas!