LUX Helsinki 2016, at the crossing between Annankatu and Kalevankatu
Originally conceived by Calgary-based artists Caitlind r.c. Brown and Wayne Garret for Calgary’s first one-night-only Nuit Blanche in 2012, Cloud was constructed from burnt out incandescent light bulbs that the artists collected from local households, businesses, museums, and eco stations. The LUX Helsinki 2016 edition of the interactive sculpture was fabricated in Moscow, and was originally exhibited at Garage in that city in 2013.
I have known this work (in video and photo) for quite some time and so it was a pleasure to be able to see it in action finally. I watched the audiences with this work over the course of three evenings. I thought the work was well-sited and took good advantage of sight-lines up the length of Annankatu (about seven city blocks). Despite being suspended low enough over the middle of the street to enable people's intimate interaction with it, the work did not disappear behind the crowds when seen from a distance. It seemed just right.
My experience with this work exemplifies one of the reasons I love visiting other people's public art festivals: I get to observe new audiences and people interacting with art works and public art locations that I don't have a personal attachment to. The Helsinki experience was great and the things I learned about the place through the people were almost worth on their own.
One thing I noticed during the mid-winter light art festival LUX Helsinki 2016 was that people were incredibly patient!! I saw this in the lines outside the Ateneum venue where a few indoor works were installed; and I saw it here at the Cloud project over the course of several nights where audience numbers gradually swelled over the evening and peaked with the site and feeder streets packed. People seemed very content to wait their turn without grumbling or pushing to get a place. This is not common in my experience of public audiences elsewhere. What an asset Helsinki has in this social behaviour. To my mind it meant that quite small scale art works and locations got to be experienced with the time and intimacy that one would only anticipate with fewer audience numbers....