This year’s Lumière festival will shine an even brighter light on contemporary art.
Normally a one-night event featuring dozens of installations throughout downtown Sydney, the current pandemic-related restrictions led organizers to stretch the event over two weeks, from Sept. 12-26.
And Suzi Oram-Aylward believes that’s better for her fellow artists and audiences.
“The online component has opened up Lumière to the rest of the island. Before the core of it was in Sydney — it was presented in Sydney and therefore a lot of the artists that presented were from that core. This year it’s really amazing to see all of the artists and the scope of it, it’s really opened it up for a lot of really brilliant people to be able to participate in a way that they really haven’t been able to before,” said Oram-Aylward, who will be taking part in the festival for the third time.
“I think that in previous years you had the one night to get out and explore and it led to this sense of community engagement and it felt really nice, but on the other side of that it meant that a lot of the events were at one side of the city and others were at the other side, so in some cases, people had to pick and choose which events they got to choose and participate in. One of the good things about the way things are set up this year is the online aspect of it and the way that it’s spread out over the span of two weeks really allows you to participate in all of it and it makes it more accessible in that way.”
Greg Davies, chair of the Lumière Arts Festival Association, agrees.
An accomplished artist and curator of the Cape Breton University Art Gallery, he said the two-week format and ability to deliver exhibits online will help showcase a significant number of local artists and provide a quality experience for the public and artists.
He’s particularly excited that people will have ample time to savour each piece of art, rather than gulp them all down in a few hours.
“If you’re looking at it from the perspective of a curator or an artist, there are some disadvantages to it as a one-night event. The disadvantage is that while it becomes a public spectacle to have a one-night event: There’s a lot of energy and a buzz, but it’s rather like a very large art opening, and if you know something about exhibition openings, they can be a lot of fun but they’re also one of the worst ways to see or experience art,” he said. “It’s very hard in that kind of environment to actually have the time to reflect upon the work, and if the work has any sort of subtlety to it, if it’s meant to be appreciated in a kind of quiet environment — and a lot of art is; not all of it, but a lot is — then it makes it very difficult to connect with the artwork as a viewer in the way that the artist had perhaps hoped you would. It’s like a Catch-22 because the spectacle side of it is important to the community as well — it brings people together and it creates a buzz that’s very fulfilling. If you remove that, or you lose that aspect of it, but you may gain on the sort of one-to-one experience with art. What we’re trying to do is try to see if we can find a way to balance those two.”
Oram-Aylward, whose previous works were typically composed of items like plastic water bottles and other found or discarded objects, has even taken a different approach for this Lumière.
A room-sized miniature landscape made of papier-mache, chicken wire and paintings, she describes her project, The Future is Unwritten, as a surreal rollercoaster ride depicting two possible futures. It will be filmed in her attic this weekend and broadcast online Monday at 7 p.m.
“It’s been really fun and messy. I’m really nervous and excited to show it. It’s different than anything I’ve ever done,” she said. “There’s definitely an apocalyptic side to it and then a much brighter side — it really depends on what ways it’s viewed. And then there’s a train track built on it that will take you on an adventure.”
Lumière Arts Festival Schedule