Friday, 7 November 2008

Enlightenment - Durham Festival of Light

We had been looking forward to our trip to see the Festival of Light for over a week now. The brochure made it sound ever so good.

Enlightenment is a stunning and truly international light festival celebrating Durham’s religious and industrial heritage. Four new light-based artworks show Durham as viewed through the eyes of two very different cultures. The installations are a fusion of cultural identities, creative styles and methods of working. The individual pieces take their inspiration from the sacred texts, iconic images and traditions of Durham and a number of Eastern societies. The major pieces will be supported by Intermittent, a light trail of smaller installations, projections, film works and light boxes which will illuminate shop windows, bars and office spaces across the City.

The reality was somewhat different.

The illuminations on the bridges were alright. Well hang on, no, they weren’t alright. One was good (below), one wasn’t on at all and the other two were only partially illuminated!

As for the light trail, well, that was something else again. At first it was fun. We tried to guess whether what we were seeing in shop windows was actually part of the trail or not. A small light box in amongst lots of bottles of cleanser in a beauty salon window, a pile of plastic rubbish bags outside of the building society and what looked like a misshapen sweet jar with mushrooms inside.

What is it? Is it art? Is it not? I don’t know. What is art? We carried on the trail. I tried my best to jolly Craig and Hermione along as it had been my idea to come and neither were particularly enthusiastic.

Standing outside of Woolworths window watching three blank television screens which periodically showed flashes of pavement I suddenly had a lights on moment. I wasn’t viewing and appreciating art – I was the proverbial emperor with new clothes!

Time to go home. Why treck around town in the dark and rain to discover a work of art aka a blank television when I can wander into my living room and observe one (a much nicer one I might add) whenever I like? Why were other folks wandering around town in the dark doing the same thing?

I’m all for a very broad interpretation and appreciation of ‘art’ but come on guys – there are limits!

Never mind culture, experiences etc etc – that was the last time I will pretend for one second that I consider something so inane to be art. From now on this emperor(ess) will be keeping her real clothes firmly on!

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