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Light High by Jacqueline Hen was a journey into space and reflective light

The artist used grid-shaped lighting elements in various compositions to create patterns and effects for her installation at the Centre for International Light Art Unna, Germany.

by Sukanya Garg Nov 11, 2019

Walking into German artist Jacqueline Hen’s immersive installation room Light High almost seems like walking into one of the visuals of Christopher Nolan’s film Inception. The room, which has a mirrored ceiling and water floor along with choreographed grid-like geometric light patterns across all the walls, provides an experience of infinity, one where the viewer is transported outside and beyond the space the room occupies in reality. The soundscape accompanying the installation further amplifies the feeling of being consumed by the space that seems to have neither a beginning nor an end. The visitors enter the installation through a slightly elevated walkway, thus becoming active components of the immersive artwork.

Jacqueline Hen, whose installation Light High won the International Light Art Award 2019 | Jacqueline Hen | STIRworld
Jacqueline Hen, whose installation Light High won the International Light Art Award 2019 Image Credit: Frank Vinken

Hen is the winner of the third International Light Art Award (ILAA). The young artist is presently pursuing her Masters at the Berlin University of the Arts, in addition to teaching at the Cologne Academy of Arts. While the focus of her studies and practice has originally been space, the light installation organically evolved from her exploration of infinite space and visual and virtual experiences associated with the latter. The work then is almost a journey into space, light being a conduit for the same.

Jacqueline Hen’s Light High explored how spatial acoustic installations influence the state of consciousness | International Light Art Award 2019 | Jacqueline Hen | STIRworld
Jacqueline Hen’s Light High explored how spatial acoustic installations influence the state of consciousness Image Credit: Frank Vinken

Hen was awarded 10,000 Euros for her winning project, in addition to receiving an additional budget of 10,000 Euros to materialise the proposal.

The ILAA and the innogy Stiftung für Energie und Gesellschaft present, every two years, this 10,000 Euro award, to an artist working in the genre of light art. In addition, two more finalists are provided a budget of 10,000 Euros each to realise their proposed project. For the 2019 award, the finalists included artists Yasuhiro Chida and the duo Dachroth + Jeschonnek.

Yasuhiro Chida, Myrkviðr, 2019, International Light Art Award 2019 | Yasuhiro Chida | STIRworld
Yasuhiro Chida, Myrkviðr, 2019, International Light Art Award 2019 Image Credit: Frank Vinken

Japanese artist Yasuhiro Chida’s practice derives inspiration from nature, and selected work Myrkvior was made up of an almost web of transparent nylon threads running through a room with numerous light points reflecting off the surface, creating the magical aura of pixie dust. 

Myrkviðr comprises an illuminated aluminum ring suspended by countless pieces of fishing line | International Light Art Award 2019 | Yasuhiro Chida | STIRworld
Myrkviðr comprises an illuminated aluminum ring suspended by countless pieces of fishing line Image Credit: Frank Vinken

Berlin-based artist duo Dachroth + Jeschonnek’s work Negative Space of Light includes what the artists refer to as ‘volumes of light’, creating a new way of seeing and perceiving light.

Dachroth + Jeschonnek, Negative Space of Light, 2019, International Light Art Award 2019 | Dachroth + Jeschonnek | STIRworld
Dachroth + Jeschonnek, Negative Space of Light, 2019, International Light Art Award 2019 Image Credit: Charlotte Dachroth

The three finalists were chosen over 350 other applicants from 61 countries by a jury, which included Leevi Haapala, director Kiasma Helsinki; Barbara Könches, director of the ZERO Foundation; Alice Hinrichs, curator; performance artist Maria Hassabi, and art historian Wolfgang Ullrich. The motto for the competition was ‘The Future of Light Art’.

Dachroth + Jeschonnek filled the museum’s vaulted cellar by a Negative Space of Light – a black hole in its own right | International Light Art Award 2019 | Dachroth + Jeschonnek | STIRworld
Dachroth + Jeschonnek filled the museum’s vaulted cellar by Negative Space of Light – a black hole in its own right Image Credit: Charlotte Dachroth

Speaking about the award and finalists, John Jaspers, Director of the Centre for International Light Art Unna, commented, “Personally, I have been especially thrilled by this edition of the International Light Art Award. The three finalists have not only demonstrated their specialised knowledge and outstanding expertise but have also shown to what degree light art correlates with scientific and technological research. Their installations are both aesthetically and conceptually convincing, and I am sure that the jury had difficulty in selecting a single winner. I am very pleased that now in its third edition, the ILAA has become an internationally recognised landmark for innovation and development in the field of light art and beyond.”

The work was on view at the Centre for International Light Art Unna along with the works of the two other finalists, Yasuhiro Chida and the duo Dachroth +Jeschonnek, until November 10, 2019.

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About Author

Sukanya Garg

Sukanya Garg

Garg is an artist and writer with a Master's degree in Public Policy from Duke University, USA. She has been involved in research, planning and execution of gallery exhibitions and external projects in collaboration with curators. Her writing has been published in several art magazines, journals and as part of curatorial notes and catalogues, and her work has been showcased at multiple exhibitions.

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