There are a lot of articles about urban light art in the Urban Artcore archives, but today I have a real treat for you: An interview with the famous light art collective Luzinterruptus from Spain!
Luzinterruptus is a great example for the creative handling with light in an urban environment. They did a lot of great and impressing urban interventions, which are always going through the urban art press and blogs around the world. For this reason and because of I didn’t know anything about the artists themselves, I did that interview with them:
uac: Your impressing light art installations are well-known around the globe, but nobody knows something about you, so who are you and where are you from and what means “Luzinterruptus”?
Luzinterruptus: Luzinterruptus is a anonymous art collective. We carry out urban installations in public spaces and use light as raw material and the night as our canvas.
The three members of the team come from different backgrounds such as art, lighting and photography and we want to apply our creativity in a common action, leaving lights on in protest, so that other people turn them off.
Light is the material we are most familiar with…
Our name has a lot to do with our work method. “Luzinterruptus” is a work of Latin origin which means interrupted light: What happens to our lamps shortly after they have been left on the streets.
uac: Light art is, like tape art, a quite new part of the urban art movement. Why did you choose this extraordinary way of recreating the city? What’s the difference to other street art forms?
Luzinterruptus: Light is the material we are most familiar with and inspires us. It provides a great visual impact and allows us to make installations –in some cases of a small size, in other larger ones- and avoid spoiling urban furniture and also leave room for other artist on the streets or the users of those public spaces, which is in short supply in big cities.
uac: Your street artworks seem to be always complex and often more an intervention than art in its classical sense – I remember the luminous traffic cones, sticking on a wall or the decorated urban lamp posts. What’s your intention and what’s the message of your artworks?
Luzinterruptus: The idea behind our work is very simple: attract attention through light in public places so that they can be understood by the people who pass by at that very momento, without the need for instructions.
We are not light art pioneers…
We intend to convey the message about how we worry about the fast worsening which is affecting public spaces in big cities like Madrid.
Sometimes we approach problems we encounter in our daily wanderings that being obvious are often overlooked. In other occasions, our aim is only to embellish or make known places which look especial or things to which we consider to have an extremely high artistic value, despite the fact that they have been left by chance on the streets by strangers with no aesthetic will.
uac: You are reckoned as light art pioneers in Europe. How much does your art affect/influence your everyday life and are there any role models or artists who inspired you?
Luzinterruptus: We are not light art pioneers, as light has been a material used for many years by great artists. In addition to these artists’ well-structured message, they use new technologies that we do not.
What makes our work different is that we do it on the streets, in a clandestine and spontaneous way, most times without sponsors and using what we find in the streets and we always leave the installation so that pedestrians interact with it as they like.
We consider ourselves urban artists and try to follow the rules that apply on the streets. We make an effort to use simple material that we find in them, to recycle and we try not to invasive as the space is concerned.
We also appreciate mainly artists who work in the public domain and consider their work essential for urban development and the diffusion of contemporary art among citizens on their own initiative and at no cost.
So our daily life influences our work and vice versa, because it is our daily walk-abouts where we find inspiration for all we do.
uac: Unfortunately, I can’t imagine how long it needs to plan those complex artworks like yours, which combine the aggressivity of urban interventions and finesse of technical installations. How long do you need to elaborate your next action and how much money did you spend for LEDs and other light art equipment in the last year?
Luzinterruptus: We normally go out to make our installations in the streets once a week, we need to fight our daily routines. It gives us as well the chance of meeting interesting people during the installations and inviting friends and other artists to help us, in spite of the late hours we start.
We plan the projects weeks in advance and we rethink more than one installation at the same time, although there are days when we see something that inspires us and we act on it immediately and improvise.
We consider ourselves urban artists and try to follow the rules that apply on the streets…
The moment to set up the installation varies greatly – from an hour for simple stuff we find in the street to the whole night. On occasions we have had to dismantle everything and start again the next day owing to the day-break and there being already too much light before the installation has been completed.
Although we make an effort to use the least costly and valuable material for the installations and recycling it from the street, lighting material is not at all cheap and this prevents us from making larger installations. This is why we like to go to festivals with a fixed budget which allows us to develop works on bigger scales and which also provides funding for further night installations…
The cost of the material last year was about 12,000€, not counting productions for festivals.
uac: When I read your blog-posts, I got the information that you will be part of the “Contemplating the Void” exhibition at Guggenheim in New York this February. What do we have to expect from you to see there and when will you come to Berlin?
Luzinterruptus: The Guggenheim in New York asked us for a project – a drawing of an installation with light -, which we would like to be shown in the atrium of this famous building.
We thought of anonymous people who inhabit museums at night and how these venues for art are used. We fancied the guards, the cleaning staff, maintenance personnel, art restorers, curators, setting-up workers… all wearing white and luminous clothes in the atrium, turning it into a shared patio in Naples style, full of life, where everybody can see their washed clothes hanging, and enabling social intercourse.
Berlin is a city we know and continues to inspire us. Its intimate urban lighting generates mysterious nocturnal shadows and really moves us. So do Berlin’s streets in Autumn, when they are full of yellowing leaves that fill the ground and creak as we tread on them. They inspired our installation “An Almost ephemeral Autumn” in Madrid. We had to look around a lot as in Madrid leaves are brushed from the streets as soon as they fall from the trees.
For time being we haven’t been asked to set up anything in Berlin but any excuse will be good to travel there and put up our lights throughout the city.
uac: The second thing I’ve learned on your blog was, that you did always a great plenty of different artworks. What work of you is the most successful (in your eyes)? Which work caused the most reactions?
Luzinterruptus: One of our favourite work is “A lot of Policeman for so few people…”. We have achieved what sums up what we would like the essence of our work always to be: minimum resource use, maximum efficiency…
As regards people’s reactions to “A Cloud of bags visit The Prado”, “The wind brought us the Crisis” or “Public toilets”…, they have been the installations which have been most admired and appreciated.
uac: Thank you very much the nice contact and the great answers! I hope that the fans of your light artworks are now able to see the people behind these wonderful and mostly impressing urban interventions. I wish you good luck for your exhibition in New York – maybe we’ll meet each other at some time or another in Berlin!