Light entertainment

Jerusalem's Old City will be illuminated by all kinds of shining art installations.

old city lit up 29888 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
old city lit up 29888
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
It's a few months too early for Hanukka, but Jerusalem is going to be celebrating a festival of lights anyway. A Light Festival, that is, taking place from June 10 to 16 at over 20 locations inside and outside of the Old City, featuring artists from Israel and abroad. Their common bond? They use light to make art. "Light art is actually a very general term - it includes all different types of art which uses light as its main medium," explained Eduardo Hobsher, the curator of the festival and the manager of Ariel, the Jerusalem Municipality company that produces the capital's cultural events. "This can be a very broad scope, encompassing the artistic lighting of a building, a light sculpture, installations that focus on light, or light as a way to interact with the public. The main thing is that without the light, the work wouldn't exist." Indeed, the Light Festival will feature a diverse blend of light installations and art displays; street galleries; museum-like displays; street shows; music and dance; and light sculptures. And best of all, it's free. Taking its cue from successful light festivals staged in Lyon, Glasgow and Lisbon, the Jerusalem Light Festival will take place throughout the streets and alleys of the Old City and its surroundings, including Safra Square, Tzahal Square, Jaffa Gate, the moat at the Tower of David, Habonim Park, the Promenades of the City Walls, Zion Gate, David's Tomb yard, Hatkuma Park, the Old Yishuv Court Museum, the Open Cardo, the Herodian Quarter, Batei Hamachase Square, the Davidson Center, the Dung Gate, the City of David, the Ophel Observation Point, the Damascus Gate, Zedekiah's Cave, the Mooristan Square and the German Church Compound. "It's kind of like a walking tour. You start in Safra Square and make your way to the Old City. There are four different routes you can take, marked by light, of course," said Hobsher. "Then as you stroll through the Old City, you encounter all kinds of different events. You might find couples dancing with costumes made of lighting elements or a theater group performing with illuminated lights surrounding them. You're not coming to a museum - the Old City is the museum!" ACCORDING TO Hobsher, it wasn't too difficult to locate Israeli artists who deal with light. In fact, it was surprisingly simple. "We issued some announcements calling for submissions from all artists who deal with an element of light - it didn't matter which kind of art, the only consideration was that light was the medium. We included a detailed document explaining what we were looking for," he said. "I was surprised at how many artists in Israel were working with light. We received about 150 proposals to fill the 30 stations we planned - it was a very diverse group of presentations and projects, really from all different fields of art." Among them are Meirav Eitan and Gaston Tzahar of the O*GE Gallery, who will exhibit a huge art display in Habonim Park of big and colorful flowers, which will be illuminated by a solar farm. Gil Teichman will turn the Jaffa Gate yard into a playground of light and movement through the use of dynamic light cubes, and artist Nitzan Refaeli will display the "Night Machine" - a kinetic sculpture hanging in space - in the moat at the Tower of David. Artists Ronen Aricha, Ori Ben-Shabat and Yosef Meir Jimmie will display a multimedia installation - combining light, video, laser and illumination - in Batei Hamachase Square. "Almost all the works are going to be premieres created specifically for this festival, and for the particular location. We gave a list of sites to the artists and they presented us with ideas for those sites," explained Hobsher. In addition, two of the world's most celebrated light artists are also contributing installations for the festival. Paul Friedlander, a physicist and a kinetic light-sculptures artist from England, will display an astonishing huge artwork in the archeological park of Davidson Center, symbolizing the delicate interdependence of past, present and future. And Spanish artist Daniel Canoger will display his works in the German Church Compound: "Jackpot" - a collage on which light flashes are projected. "Friedlander is one of the real leaders in installations of kinetic light, and Canoger just finished presenting works from his latest exhibition in Madrid a month ago," said Hobsher. Many tourist sites will open their gates free of charge to the public on the nights of the festival, which is an initiative of the Jerusalem Development Authority and the Jerusalem Municipality, in collaboration with the Tourism Ministry. Unfortunately, just as quickly as the installations are erected, they'll be dismantled following the festival. "There's an enormous difference in the cost between a temporary and a permanent exhibition," said Hobsher. "However, there is one installation in the Jewish Quarter that is going to stay up as the first step in a very big installation that's going to be permanently installed there." For more information, go to: