Review: IN Light IN, Indy's downtown lights festival 

It shouldn’t be a one-time thing

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IN Light IN, which celebrated the 100th year of the Indianapolis Foundation, is already a thing of the past.

I’m willing to bet, however, that most of you fortunate enough to have attended this free festival last weekend feel like I do: that it shouldn’t be a one-time thing.

IN Light IN, which took place in the general vicinity of the Downtown Canal, wasn’t just about art that incorporates light: it was about people interacting with art, about people becoming part of an outdoor canvas. Take, for example, the “Paddlit” paddleboats outfitted with LED lights by Big Car Collective, lights that paddlers could to some degree, if they so desired, control. Or take, for another example, the bicycle-powered light-infused constructions of “Shadows of Our Prairie Past” created by Opera-Matic and Know No Stranger. These were constructions that you could—if you so desired—ride.

IN Light IN was also about creative use of space. Not only did Downtown Canal itself become a canvas for Indy-based Owens and Crawley’s “A September without Ice”— which allowed visitors to ponder the effects of global warming — but building façades became canvases as well.

Projectionists were having their way with the Scottish Rite Cathedral, with the Bethel A.M.E. Church, and with the Indiana Government Center. At Scottish Rite, YesYesNo from Brooklyn, N.Y. allowed people to cast their shadows onto the front of the cathedral, against a hallucinatory blur of lights set to music. A similar thing was going on in more spectacular fashion at the upper canal under 11th Street where Austin, TX based Luke Savisky created “ST/X.” This installation allowed people to have their images projected from a live camera stage onto a water screen over the canal. So you could see the images of participants not just walking, but dancing, on water.

While the Fest included many artists from all over the country, a number of well-established Indy artists were included as well. Anila Quayyum Agha’s canal path-level “Alhambra Nights,” is a variant on her Art Prize winning work “Intersections.” It invites viewers to cast their own shadows on the surrounding walls as they walk by her hollow, interior-lit, hanging sculptures carved in geometric patterns. While these sculptures project a vision of sacred space, Jamie Pawlus’s neon-illuminated sign “HAPPINESS,” invites viewers to contemplate their own interior space. As the cool blue sign switches off, and then comes back on in stages, Pawlus reminds us that being happy relies on a sense of perspective. We can only appreciate the light of happiness if we know what it’s like to be in the dark. 


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Dan Grossman

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