Lights festival debuts in Downtown Dubai

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Lights festival debuts in Downtown Dubai Kelly Clarke / 21 March 2014 Walls of iconic buildings in Downtown area become the canvas A typical walk through Downtown Dubai usually exposes you to a visual array of awe-inspiring skyscrapers, with revving engines and car horns providing the perfect sound backdrop. But Dubai’s busy district has now become home to an array of all singing and dancing art. From the shores of the Milky Way, to an urban Serengeti, the city’s skies will explode with colour over the next few days and become ‘the brightest square-kilometre on earth’ thanks to the 32 installations on display at this year’s debut Dubai Festival of Lights. Passers-by will get an insight into the minds of each exhibiting artist — and whether it makes sense or not, it’s certainly going to be a feast for the eyes and ears.   Lights in different shapes and colours on iconic buildings in the Downtown area as the Dubai Festival of Lights started on Wednesday evening. — KT photos by Shihab During a sneak preview of some of the finished installations on Wednesday evening, Star Fishermen by Tokyo-born artist Akira-Lisa Ichii kick-started proceedings — but hamour and salmon were not on the menu. “This is a story about fishermen trying to catch the stardust in the Milky Way, so they’re not your typical fishermen.” Composed of three fishing cabins draped in aluminous lighting, the seven-minute composition using  a dynamic 360-degree lighting and sound system, sees light take on the role of dancer, and the music its composer, while hypnotically bringing spectators to the seas shore. And when asked where the inspiration for such a unique idea came from, Ichii said the UAE’s history played a big part in show piece. “When I was invited to Dubai, I knew I wanted to adapt this particular piece of mine. Not many people know this about the city, but before all the skyscrapers and highways, Dubai was a fishing village, so I thought this fit perfectly for this festival,” she told Khaleej Times. A light injection Turning Downtown Dubai’s urban surroundings into a façade of light, sound and art, the consensus among the exhibiting artists is that Dubai is a city which deserves artistic light. And French sculptor Edouard Levine, who is showcasing his illuminated geometric sculpture, Mikado, at this year’s festival, told Khaleej Times the city is a welcome platform for his pieces. “Dubai’s art scene is up and coming, so for me it’s a new discovery. It’s a new stage for my work and I am never afraid of trying new things.” With the 10-day light festival making Dubai’s famous square kilometre the ‘brightest on earth’, it could well bag the prize for ‘most entertaining car park on earth’ too, thanks to a humourous video mapping composition from French duo Mouety Batlle and David Passegand. Spread across a giant coloured wall canvas along Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, The Anookis throws you back to the days of the Atari computer. With simple imagery and a humourous story, the duo cleverly use lighting and sound effects to create a sense of nostalgia, and spectators are bound to fall in love with the loveable ‘Inuit’ characters too. Visually based on the two artists themselves, the Inuits take you on a wacky journey where cute cries, adorable laughter and wiggling bums are bound to raise laughs among Dubai’s old and young alike.  “We originally created these two characters to animate our website, but they became so famous on the Internet, and it just spiralled from there. Now they’re on Facebook stickers and we’ve adapted them into smartphone apps too. This creation should be fun for all people,” Passegand said. Given just five weeks to produce the seven-minute show, The Anookis story is exclusive to Dubai audiences, and with the artists currently working a TV show based on the loveable Inuit characters, we could be seeing a lot more of them around the UAE soon. Time to explore A collaboration between Emaar and the Ville de Lyon’s Festival of Lights in France, Emaar’s managing director Ahmad Thani Al Matrooshi promised to continue long-term partnerships with the art organisation at Wednesday’s event, in a bid to build a cultural bridge between both Dubai and Lyon. So, as office buildings, homes and shop fronts become the canvas for these extraordinary international artists, why not get yourself down there and expose yourself to a different kind of art this month… one which tells a tale. For more news from Khaleej Times, follow us on Facebook at , and on Twitter at @khaleejtimes Continue reading →

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