by Zohra KhanJan 20, 2020
Topical, relatable and interactive. That is what comes to my mind when I look at Luzinterruptus’ art practice. Cooped up in our homes, as we ruminate, debate and discuss our collective damage to the environment and its result thereof, Luzinterruptus’ artworks drive the point home. Since its inception in 2008, the art collective has been engaged with making art that highlights environmental concerns.
As part of the Festival de Bordeaux (FAB) in France, the collective filled up the facade of the old Virgin Megastore with plastic bags collected from other well-known stores. When the store lit up at night with the stuffed plastic bags, the work The Plastic We Live With looked stunning and gave the impression of stained glass. Later, the work was dismantled and the plastic bags were recycled.
The collective had earlier used plastic in Plastic Waste Labyrinth, a massive installation in Madrid’s Mayor Plaza, using 15,000 plastic bottles. These bottles were lit up and kept in bags that suspended from a metallic structure fashioned like a maze. In the backdrop of the historical plaza, the giant maze played out the harsh truth of modernity. As visitors walked through the labyrinth, seeking an exit, the temperature, heat and the claustrophobic space sought to make them conscious about the omnipresent plastic.
Light defines the art practice of Luzinterruptus. In fact, in an email interview with STIR, the group explains that Luzinterruptus means ‘light interrupted, light subdued’. On how light came to be their visual language, the group says, “We were searching for a medium with which we could work in the streets, in the manner as urban artists did, by taking advantage of the resources the city had, and allowing us to perform small guerrilla interventions in an ephemeral format that would not leave any trace in the urban landscape, and light was the medium that offered us all those possibilities. Light has always been present in the nocturnal urban landscapes… you can operate with it, and when it is switched off, everything returns to the way it used to be”. It complements the ephemeral nature of their work and attains a metaphorical flavour. When 10,000 illuminated books flowed like a river on a road in Toronto, Canada, which is otherwise congested with traffic, hundreds of passers-by got immersed in the light of words, hope and thoughts.
The group feels that the relatable nature of their work encourages viewers to interact with it. “We have been able to furnish our work in a language that people understand and identify with it. We do not use last generation technologies, nor sophisticated materials, just common stuff that we all have around us. Thanks to the usage of light, it acquires a new meaning and value. Besides, we normally work with donated materials, helped also by local volunteers, so everything is understood in its context. It is obviously shocking, but it is not rejected from the public, which is great for us, as our main objective by performing our artworks is to make people reflect on real problems that affect us all,” it explains.
Collaborations are a significant part of Luzinterruptus’ art making process. The collective works with donated material, local NGOs and communities. The group consciously works with public institutions and not for commercial brands or individuals. “We turn all the process into a collaborative experience, where citizens are able to help us by donating materials or by helping us build the installations and share time with us during the assembly time. For that, we usually launch a public call for the donation of recycled materials. With this simple step, people feel they are also part of the artwork. On top of that, we also ask neighbours to come and voluntarily work with us, helping us with some steps of the production of each piece, and having a great time with us. This experience is extremely important for us, as it helps us to understand the context where the installation is going to be placed, and to understand the people who are actually going to enjoy it. At the end, the artwork no longer belongs to us, but to the community. We build lasting bonds,” mentions the artistic group that likes to stay anonymous.
The group is now expanding its engagement with light. It is working towards a low-cost street lighting project. A slew of sketches are ready and waiting to be realised. “We are waiting for the right moment to be produced and brought to life. We do not have prefabricated artworks ready to transport, on the contrary, our work method is 100 per cent site-specific, and we always take into account the local resources from the location we work in,” says Luzinterruptus.
They are working on a project that it feels has assumed even greater significance in the context of the pandemic. According to Luzinterruptus, “A Wall To Shake Off One’s Fear” would make sense in this new context we are living, where everything needs to be written on blank brand new pages.”
Of course, the light will guide them in the endeavour.