Back to Hildesheim in January 2024

The EVI LICHTUNGEN project in Hildesheim is a decentral exhibition project which positions itself as an artistic festival. “From the very beginning, the public has followed this challenging path,” said the two curators, Klaus Wilhelm and Lena Weisner, in an interview for this review; since 2023,they have been curating EVI LICHTUNGEN jointly.

Across the city’ center, the festival of light takes place at selected locations: “Hildesheim has numerous churches and other cultural heritage sites, and our concept is based on including urban spaces, historical places, and artistic works so that something new is created in exchange and interaction”.

LICHTUNGEN Hildesheim 20151ARTISTS 2015 (Images): Philipp Artus, Cathrine Balet, Marion Cziba, Ghiju Diáz de Léon, Martin Fell, Olivia D’Aboville, Tom Groll, Andrea Thembie Hannig, joeressen+kessner, Francesco Mariotti, molitor & kuzmin, Maria Elena Schmidt.. Photos: Sara Förster, Ricardo Nunes.

“Cultural-historical art has long been a focal point in Hildesheim, contemporary art to date rather less,” said Klaus Wilhelm, “… the UNESCO wants the World Heritage Sites to be places of learning for contemporary issues, … and the EVI LICHTUNGEN project is our answer to this.” In 815, Hildesheim was founded as a new episcopal seat. It became an important trading hub and interface of European significance for exchanging cultural ideas, craft techniques, and economic goods. Its strategic geo location along important trade routes contributed to the city’s development. It flourished under the patronage of Bishop Bernward (950/960 — 1022) of Hildesheim, whose legacy includes buildings such as St. Michael’s Church and Hildesheim Cathedral, now UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In 2015, the city of Hildesheim celebrated the city’s jubilee of 1200 years. Part of the celebration activities was the 1st edition of the public art project LICHTUNGEN, which has become a biennial festival since.

LICHTUNGEN Hildesheim 20182ARTISTS 2015 (Images): Philipp Artus, Cathrine Balet, Marion Cziba, Ghiju Diáz de Léon, Martin Fell, Olivia D’aboville, Tom Groll, Andrea Thembie Hannig, joeressen+kessner, Francesco Mariotti, molitor & kuzmin, Maria Elena Schmidt. Photos: Jennifer Braun, Sara Förster, Ricardo Nunes.

Once again, in January 2024, thousands of people followed the invitation of the City Marketing Organization. The audience is diverse, and the art project brings visitors of many age groups, levels of education, and social classes, regardless of which conviction, culture, or religion they associate with.

Many of the sites had long waiting times, with a pleasantly patient audience. The two curators comment: “There are always places accessible to a large audience without restrictions. But when we select locations and art projects, we do not primarily have high visitor numbers in mind, but rather the interplay between the site and art.”

EVI LICHTUNGEN Hildesheim 2024. Photos: Sara Förster.

Over the years, the Cathedral of St. Mary’s Assumption, St. Michael’s Church, St. Andrew’s Church, the Church of the Holy Cross, and the profaned Bernward Church have been regular venues for the EVI LICHTUNGEN.

This year, Kurt Laurenz Theinert performed live projections in the large nave of the cathedral. In St. Michael’s Church, Liz West showed an analog light intervention that distributed colored light reflections in the room using 700 round, colored mirrors. A kinetic light installation by A.I.L.O (Atelier d’Immersion Lumineuse et Obscure) was displayed in the Church of the Holy Cross, which multiplied itself into a geometric shadow play. In the Bernward Church, a triptych of three large-format LED screens was set up to display images of digital evolutions showing transformations of natural elements such as plants, animals, landscapes, and weather phenomena. St. Andrew’s Church housed a true-to-scale sculpture of the moon, which Luke Jerram calls the “Museum of the Moon”.

IN THE MUSEUMS

The city’s cultural history museums – the Cathedral Museum and the Roemer-Pelizaeus- Museum – are institutions open to contemporary art during the EVI LICHTUNGEN.

At the heart of the Cathedral Museum are medieval works of art that are part of World Heritage. In 2015, the museum was extended with an annex of exposed concrete, an extraordinary urban accent. For the EVI LICHTUNGEN, it served as a screen for the black-and-white graphic projection by students Hannah Menking, Franziska-Marie Holtz, and Chris Knall.

The Roemer-und-Pelizaeus-Museum, with its collections from ancient Egypt, historical Peru, and ancient China and its historical natural history collection, inspired the students Maxim Wibornich, Liv Siri Janshen, and Maite Mafe Köller. They collaged color surfaces, structures, and patterns from the collection on overhead projectors. There was also space for an installation by Olafur Eliasson, which invited visitors to experiment with color shadows.

PUBLIC SPACES

New locations this year included the Rosenhagen residential quarter. The curatorial tandem explains: “We always focus on the places that make up Hildesheim — such as the market square and the World Heritage churches — but it is crucial that we also find good artistic works for these locations.” Every year, part of the sites are new, and others like the iconic Market Square this year are not always part of the parcours, “… we are looking for surprising places, that you wouldn’t expect. Either because they are everyday places or places that can be rediscovered, like this time the 70m-wide wall hidden behind a row of houses.”

This rear wall of a parking garage served as a projection surface for the 8-channel video projection “More Sweetly Play the Dance” by William Kentridge. The title is an allusion to Paul Celan’s famous death fugue, which begins as follows: “Play more sweetly the death – death is a master from Germany”. Characteristics of both Paul Celan’s text and William Kentridge’s video installation are the structure of a musical fugue: different motifs are repeated, varied, and combined. The visual motifs of the video installation have historical connotations without referring to specific events: Oppression, hardship and protest, illness and death, slavery and colonialism. The video installation was developed and produced in 2015 at the invitation of the LICHTSICHT Projection Biennial in Bad Rothenfelde and the EYE Film Museum in Amsterdam.

A screen showing an animated work by Quayola stretched between old trees in a green space of a historic cemetery. The photographic source material was a series of videos showing landscapes in late spring in Provence. The images were transposed into dynamic color and texture systems using algorithmic settings. The 1-channel video work was developed and realized in 2015 by the Festival of Light GLOW in Eindhoven for the Van- Gogh-Year “125 Years of Inspiration”.

UNIVERSITY PROJECTS

Along the “Innerste”, a tributary of the river “Leine”, a projection work was positioned. Students of the University of Applied Art and Science (HAWK) spoke to homeless people for the multi-channel text projection. The two students, Fabian Lux, and Elias Körbel, used excerpts from the interviews about the reasons for homelessness and their challenges as text-image projections along the riverbank. Other than in 2020, this time, the student projects were not located on the University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HAWK) campus — what was a bit too far to walk — but integrated into the parcours around the city’s center.

A total of three new projects were produced at the HAWK, all developed site-specific: “The homeless had their say on the bridge over the Innerste, we found a quirky piece of furniture in the stairwell of the museum, and the streaks of water, algae, and mosses on the extension to the museum determined the design,” said Detlef Hartung, from the artists’ tandem Hartung Trenz. This year, he worked with lighting design students and all design disciplines: “The transdisciplinary aspects this year were a real enrichment … each group tried to give their best, with all the difficulties that working in public space entails. The learning process was enormous in this respect.”

ART HISTORY OF LIGHT

Since 2022, EVI LICHTUNGEN has been cooperating with the Schloss Derneburg Art Museum a few kilometers away. The art collectors Andrew Hall and Christine Hall own the private museum in a historic castle. The castle dates to an Augustinian convent founded in 1213 and later a Cistercian monastery. In the middle of the 19th century, Georg Herbert Graf zu Münster transformed it into a castle in the English Gothic Tudor style. In the 20th century, the painter Georg Baselitz lived here for several decades before the American Andrew Hall bought it in 2006 and transformed it into a private museum.

The artworks shown here belong to the classic positions in the art history of light. Keith Sonnier contrasted industrially formed aluminum sheets and organic, hand-formed neon lines (1989). Angela Bulloch showed a geometric grid structure backed with changes in light and color (2004). Jenny Holzer mounted red-white and blue-white LED-based running lines crosswise and across corners (2008). Olafur Eliasson composed with light, glass, and the reflective behavior of a Fresnel lens, which is usually used in lighthouses (2017). Alongside art festivals such as LICHTROUTEN in Lüdenscheid (since 2002) or GOLDSTÜCKE in Gelsenkirchen (since 2019), KLANGLICHT in Graz (since 2015) and the WATER LIGHT FESTIVAL in Brixen / Neustift (since 2017), there are only a few festivals of light in Europe that are dedicated to present art-historically established and contemporary positions side-by-side.

The EVI LICHTUNGEN engender aesthetic situations allowing to explore the selected sites and contemporary art. They provide a framework to notice, observe, and reflect on the properties and power of light. They remind us of the dynamic relationship between light, space, time, and color as the prerequisites of visual arts. They are a festival in the best sense: they celebrate public space as a place of encounter, shared experience, and social exchange inspired by contemporary art.

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    ARTISTS 2015 (Images): Philipp Artus, Cathrine Balet, Marion Cziba, Ghiju Diáz de Léon, Martin Fell, Olivia D’Aboville, Tom Groll, Andrea Thembie Hannig, joeressen+kessner, Francesco Mariotti, molitor & kuzmin, Maria Elena Schmidt.
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    ARTISTS 2015 (Images): Philipp Artus, Cathrine Balet, Marion Cziba, Ghiju Diáz de Léon, Martin Fell, Olivia D’aboville, Tom Groll, Andrea Thembie Hannig, joeressen+kessner, Francesco Mariotti, molitor & kuzmin, Maria Elena Schmidt
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