For 17 years, Lights in Alingsås has been an integral part of Sweden’s local culture and tourism. A momentous event on the international lighting education stage, the festival draws around 85,000 visitors each year, along with students and designers from around the globe.
The focus of the festival surrounds seven teams of international lighting and architecture students, led by experienced lighting designers, who each have six days to design and complete an outdoor lighting exhibit based on that year’s theme.
The theme this year was unique – sites were to take inspiration from the 2016 UN Sustainable Development Goals. Luma’s CJ Brockway participated as a festival workshop head, leading her creative team to build one of the festival’s seven lighting installations. CJ’s site was a remote “encampment” at the edge of town, and their site aimed to bring attention to UN Goal #1 – Ending Poverty. The site, titled “Out of Site, Out of Mind” was a messy, muddy, chaotic installation, shedding light on the world’s cultures that are most impacted by poverty. Filled with useful debris, the installation sought to bring attention to things that are needed for basic survival, from educational materials to water filtration and critical healthcare items to a simple mat to separate one from the ground. When a presence was detected at the site, a sensor would illuminate select objects, drawing a path through the site. Three prominent symbolic dwelling structures were lit from within, showing light as an element of safety, while barely visible human sculptures were eerily lit around the dense property perimeter. Not all foreboding and ominous, the site also featured rhythmic music inspired by select impoverished cultures, as well as twinkling stars high up in nearby trees.
To bring attention to the problem of homelessness in Western counties, and the refugee crisis in Sweden, an additional small remote installation occupied a nearby plot. In the United States, we typically think of a shopping cart and tent as ubiquitous indications of transitory existence. In Sweden, the Ikea bag is a similar symbol. Underneath a crude lean-to, a human form sits facing a garish light, set with the chains and baggage of a more individual journey.
CJ’s team worked with Shelter Box, to obtain materials for the installation. A lit donation booth was set up at the edge of the site.
Click to view photos of the festival.