The capital will be illuminated during the second Festival of Lights
Vilnius will celebrate a vivid 697th birthday: from the 24th to the 26th of January, the capital will be illuminated during the second Vilnius Festival of Lights. Twenty-six light installations created by foreign and Lithuanian artists will illuminate 74 blocks with 70 streets and back streets and about 1,500 different buildings in the charming courtyards of the Old Town. Twenty-seven surprising artistic light installations, light objects, and projections on the symbols of Vilnius and historic works of architecture that were created by Lithuanian artists and guests from France, Romania, Slovenia, and Latvia will enchant visitors with their unique atmosphere and invite them to the route of lights that is full of discoveries.
“We continue the mission started in the letters of Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas: we invite everyone to come to Vilnius, which celebrates the 697th anniversary this year. Let us celebrate Vilnius together at the second international Vilnius Festival of Lights, which will transform urban spaces, architecture, and courtyards and turn Vilnius into a modern open-air art gallery. On this occasion, visitors in the Cathedral Square will be met by Duke Gediminas, who will become the Jedi of Vilnius again. I am pleased that we are starting the year symbolically, with even more light, celebrating the birthday of Vilnius more vividly and creatively every year,” says Remigijus Šimašius, the Mayor of Vilnius.
The festival will reveal the secrets of the capital’s courtyards
The courtyards of the Old Town of Vilnius, which is inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list, are an archive of the history of the city, which is full of secrets and records the history of the city since the Middle Ages as well as the main cultural influences: the courtyards of the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, the old building of the Vilnius Academy of Arts, the Mabre Residence Hotel, the Vilnius International School, the Lithuanian Art Museum, the Pacai Hotel, the Teachers’ House in Vilnius, the Lithuanian Technical Library, the Alumnatas Courtyard, the Grand Courtyard and the Astronomical Observatory Courtyard, the courtyards of the Faculty of Philology and the Faculty of History of Vilnius University, the Presidential Palace, etc. In unusual light, their history will be intertwined with contemporary stories created by unique works of light art, changing space perception, creating a special atmosphere and illusions and becoming new discoveries not only for the city’s guests, but also for Vilnius residents themselves.
The most vivid installations
Curious visitors to the courtyard of the old building of the Vilnius Academy of Arts will see Emilien Guesnard’s mysterious installation “Order 200”, which was shown for the first time in December, during the major European festival of lights La Fête des Lumières in Lyon. By creating this installation, the French artist would like to draw attention to one of the many things that affect our daily lives: how to strike a balance between order and chaos? According to the author, the installation is his vision regarding the human condition. The ideas are universal, but we constantly use them to understand and question our ability to see the world. These concepts are essential for us to understand life; they also affect our feelings.
In one of the most beautiful monuments of Renaissance architecture in the capital, the Alumnatas Courtyard, which is part of the ensemble of Vilnius University, visitors will find the shining “Mazgas” (“Knot”) of impressive size. Vėjas Aliukas’s intriguing creation is an installation of an object and light. The mirror inflatable object shape was created using the principles of topology and knot theory. An object whose structure is based on a perfect closed shape—a circle—does not have a beginning or an end; when it is topologically deformed, it turns into a knot in three-dimensional space, making us question whether we are actually capable of objectively perceiving reality.
The video installation of Linartas Urniežius “Mes” (“We”), in which every one of us can discover a part of ourselves, will watch us from the façade of the Lithuanian Technical Library. As the author explains, our eyes not only watch the environment; they can also tell stories, express emotions and reveal the inner parts of the soul. The installation “Mes” (“We”) is an arrangement of ordinary and at the same time unique videos of people’s eyes that interacts with the Italian architecture of the building in the courtyard of St Ignatius. Eighteen different pairs of eyes were used for this project. All of them were combined into a single social message. What are we like? What do our eyes reflect? Is it possible to understand the emotion in the eyes without seeing the facial expression and without knowing to whom the eyes belong? Let our souls’ states and emotions convey architecture.
In the courtyard of the Faculty of Philology of Vilnius University, also known as the courtyard of Motiejus Kazimieras Sarbievijus, the video projection “Nykos-Niliūno dienoraštis” (“Nyka-Niliūnas’s Diary”) will be shown. The author of the installation Karolina Galinauskaitė will read excerpts from the author’s diary, in which Alfonsas Čipkus’s memories of studying in the Faculty of Philology of Vilnius University, his interaction with Vytautas Mačernis and other poets, and the start of the war and friends affected by the epidemic will be revealed.
In the Astronomical Observatory Courtyard of Vilnius University containing the observatory building decorated with Zodiac symbols, which was founded in 1753 and is one of the oldest observatories in Europe and the oldest in the former Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, Luka Savić’s (Slovenia) installation „Žemėje taip, kaip rojuje“ (“On Heaven as it is on Earth”) depicting a handshake will be shown. The artist often interprets and comments on the works of other artists and looks for inspiration in the works of art from the past. This time, he chose Marko Pogačnik, a Slovenian neo-avantgarde artist, who later started to study esoteric and cosmological principles of art. The project crosses the border between visible and invisible, tangible and spiritual, between different periods in art history. The handshake theme itself is understood as a harmonious gesture linking the Earth and the Sky.
In the courtyard of the Teachers’ House in Vilnius, where the western walls of buildings protect historic fragments of the city’s defensive wall, visitors will be invited to get lost in, discover, and experience “Labirintas” (“The Labyrinth”), an interactive light installation by Jurga Marcinauskaitė. Light, shadows, misleading roads and fun discoveries will transport visitors from normal everyday events to a fun experience. The goal of the installation is not only to attract visitors’ attention visually, but also to stimulate imagination, spatial and strategic thinking, creativity, communication and team cooperation.
Environmentally friendly green energy will be used for the first time during the Vilnius Festival of Lights. “Tensegrity”, a work of the French artists’ team “Aero Sculpture”, which will decorate the courtyard of the Palace of the Grand Dukes, consumes 6 kW of electricity per hour, which is produced by processing 12 kg of used coffee grounds. “We appreciate the opportunity to contribute to the Vilnius Festival of Lights, not only by helping to present the work of the French artists’ team decorating the courtyard of the Palace of the Grand Dukes, but also by providing green energy for illuminating other exhibits of the festival. In this way, we want to encourage the residents of Vilnius, the city’s guests and organizations operating here to take sustainable action, starting with the easy step of collecting used coffee grounds after drinking a cup of coffee,” says Valdas Šidla, the Head of Marketing at “Paulig”. According to him, last year, over 50 tonnes of used coffee grounds were collected from major business centres located in the capital.
A map and a mobile app will help not to miss anything
An installation map with the festival route http://www.lightfestival.lt/zemelapis/ created by the organisers and a mobile app will help to find and visit all sites more easily during the festival, without missing any of them.
The organisers recommend starting from the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, which has been a representative residence of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania since the times of the first Gediminids, to continue by visiting the Old Town, and to visit each site by following a consistent route using the map of the festival.
In the mobile app, visitors to the festival will also find a map of light installations and sites to be visited as well as comprehensive information about them: addresses, site descriptions, courtyard histories, and visiting hours. Visitors to the festival will be able to mark their favourite sites by tapping “Like”.
As the 700th Vilnius anniversary approaches, last year the Festival of Lights was conceived as one of the new main traditions of celebrating the birthday of the capital. About 130,000 visitors to the festival saw 27 light installations over the course of three evenings during the successful start of the Vilnius Festival of Lights, and even more guests are expected this year.
More information about the Vilnius Festival of Lights: http://www.lightfestival.lt/