“It’s a shame that Kurfürstendamm is only properly lit up at Christmas”, thought the well-known light designer Andreas Boehlke to himself a few years ago – and teamed up with festival organizer Birgit Zander in 2004 to create the Festival of Lights in Berlin. For the past eleven years, artists from around the world have been illuminating striking buildings, monuments, squares and streets in the German capital every autumn. In 2015, the USA will be congratulating the Germans on “25 years of unity, peace and freedom” by projecting a light display onto the US Embassy. The possibilities are endless when it comes to the light installations – in past years the Brandenburg Gate has been covered in roses of light, while the Bode Museum has worn a blue hat. And in 2008, the world’s largest light clock – with a diameter of 60 metres – even made it into the Guinness Book of Records.
Photo collages and video stories
More recently, the organizers have been increasingly involving visitors – there were two million of them in 2014 – in the light installations. In 2015 they were invited to send in photos which would form part of an artistic collage marking 50 years of diplomatic relations between Germany and Israel. Another interactive highlight of this year’s festival is the Festival of Lights Award: from a pool of 100 applicants, a jury picked six finalists who will be competing against one another in a kind of championship. The light artists will present 25-minute video stories against the backdrop of the Brandenburg Gate. An international audience will then be able to vote in situ, online or by text message for the best story.
Festival of Lights from 9 to 18 October 2015 in Berlin