Published on: February 24, 2010
With Frankfurt Lighting Fair there is also, as always, Luminale.
The Luminale is a international festival of lighting culture taking place every two years in Frankfurt am Main and the entire Rhine-Main region. In addition to Frankfurt itself, Offenbach, RĂŒsselsheim, Mainz and Wiesbaden all play host to the festival. The concept was developed in the year 2000 and realized for the first time in 2002. By the third edition of the festival in 2006, it comprised some 180 lighting projects and around 160 events in museums and galleries, adorning the facades of tall buildings, warehouses, streets, city squares, churches, parks, river banks and bridges. 2008 Luminale had 227 projects with roundabout 180 events.
The Luminale has founded a tradition of its own as a festival of light culture, inspired by the oldest light festival of all, Lyonâs 150-year-old FĂȘte des lumiĂšres. With its multifarious lighting and son et lumiĂšre installations, art and performances conveying vividly the endless possibilities of light, the Luminale is a presentation platform upon which architects, designers, town planners and artists can exhibit before the general public their latest work and product ideas within the context of a festival. Luminale projects regularly win design and architectural awards.
Unlike other festivals, the Luminale has an international character and an international impact. It coincides with the world trade fair for lighting: the Light+Building, the venue for which is the Frankfurt trade fair centre. This fair is attended by people from all over the world with a professional interest in lighting. Among the 165,000 international guests, there are 40,000 architects, who in addition to the trade fair visit the Luminale. Special bus tours are organized to make it easy for international visitors as well as the general public to visit the individual lighting installations and compare them.
The programme of the Luminale is addressed both to visitors from all over the world with a professional interest in lighting and to the general public of the region. This makes the Luminale different from other lighting events, which are guided by purely commercial or touristic goals. The Luminale is a lighting laboratory open to the public. Innovation and experimentation occupy centre stage rather than oft-rehearsed illumination spectaculars aimed at a mass public. In many respects, the Luminale is a kind of meta-festival. Anyone whose work at the Luminale finds favour in the eyes of the lighting world will be invited to other festivals of light.
Lighting is becoming increasingly important due to the citification of the world. In 2006, for the first time, more people in the world were living in cities than in the countryside. Light and electricity are the most important mediums of urban life. In this respect, the Luminale is an urban age festival that reflects the development of the urban world.
The Luminale is now a station in the yearly round of a number of photo communities. Professional and amateur photographers alike treat the Luminale as a photo-shoot, presenting their perceptions of the city in exhibitions and on various websites, the upshot being that there is comprehensive and long-term documentation of the Luminale on the Internet.
The concept of the Luminale has many roots. It was developed by the cultura scientist Helmut M. Bien on behalf of the Messe Frankfurt. In terms of organization, it represents a combination of events formats ranging from the FĂȘte des LumiĂšres in Lyon to the internationally successful concept of âMuseum Nightsâ and design-off programmes such as the Design Horizonte (Michael Peters) of the Eighties.
The Luminale as an event the essence of which is the perception and temporary transformation of the city has its philosophical roots in the theories and reflections on the subject of the Flaneur (Passagenwerk by Walter Benjamin), the Promenadology by Lucius Burkhardt and the walkings of the peripatetic Bazon Brock (Prussia understandig by walking), all of whom interpret public space as a surface of the imagination upon which the wishes, interests, traditions and yearnings of a society are manifested. For such writers, aesthetics is the science of perception.
Proceeding from the actions of the Situationist International (Guy Debord) of the late Sixties, in which the inhospitality of the cities and their reappropriation are thematized, the interest of a younger generation of architects in the issue of city appropriation has been growing for years. The projects realized bring to light the temporary and performative aspects of architecture â filling the lacunae and ânon-placesâ of shrinking cities with new life, finding transitory solutions for the slums and favelas of mega-cities, and transforming into temporary stages or enhancing with
architectural structures areas of wasteland within cities â give public space new attractiveness and altered meanings, all of which come under the rubric âTemporary Urbanismâ. Even the theme âArt in the Public Spaceâ belongs there. The best-known project, the Muenster Sculptural Project (Kaspar Koenig) gives a platform to artists experimenting with the public and perception. âUrban Artâ and âStreet Artâ are also of relevance in this context.
For temporary as well as for performative creative strategies light is an appropriate, effective, readily available and economical medium. The Luminale takes up all these tendencies in architecture and art and translates them into a festival programme.