In the German Ruhr area, close to Düsseldorf and Dortmund, one finds the world’s first and only museum specialized in presenting light art.
The Centre for International Light Art in the city of Unna resides in the cooling and storage cellars of the former Linden brewery, some 33 feet below ground, and it is here where the most important international compositions of light art are brought together. Every single light art installation was specifically created for the museum, and wandering through the labyrinth-like vaulted rooms one encounters works by James Turrell, Christian Boltanski, Ólafur Eliasson, Rebecca Horn, Joseph Kosuth, Mario Merz, Francois Morellet, Keith Sonnier and many more.
The collection shows monumental installations. The medium’s best-known practitioner, James Turrell, created two art works here, among which the installation “Third Breath”, a freestanding bunker, consisting of a camera obscura and one of his famous skyspaces.
The museum draws an international audience, and according to Dutch-born director John Jaspers, this is thanks to “the Rembrandts and van Goghs of light art”, who were all invited to Unna to build their site-specific installations. The foundation of the museum, which was established in 2001, is that all works of light art must be able to dominate the rooms and cellars in which they are exhibited.
The same fondation also applies to the concepts that were recently contributed by artists world-wide for the first International Light Art Award 2015. This so-called ILAA is initiated by the museum and by RWE Foundation, which focuses on various kinds of civic involvement and contributes to a comprehensive social understanding of energy with its projects. For Stephan Muschick, managing director of RWE Foundation, the advancement of light art plays a special role: “To us, light art is not only an artistic expression of energy, but also a motor for innovation and a means to bring about fundamental changes in society”.
ILAA, the Award’s Objectives
The Centre for International Light Art’s principal aim is to provide emerging talents with a platform through the award and an accompanying exhibition. The prize endorses artists who face the challenges of this young genre and are dedicated to developing light art in innovative and creative ways. As a competence centre, the museum aims to highlight possible ways into which light art can develop itself within –let us say- the next 10 years. “The ILAA showcases the great potential of young light artists in a unique way and contributes to drawing more attention to this dynamic form of contemporary art and related topics such as technology, energy consumption, and sustainability”, states the museum’s director John Jaspers.
The nominees for the first International Light Art Award have been selected. A global recommendation committee of artists, curators and museum directors has been inviting potential candidates since spring 2014 to submit a light art design for the ILAA. The award’s jury will announce the three winners this September. The overall winner will be awarded the ILAA will be awarded a sum of 10.000 Euro. In addition, the winning artist and those coming in second and third place will receive the financial support that will enable them to realise their concepts in the Centre for International Light Art’s exhibition rooms and present them to the public for five months.
International Year of Light and ILAA
The International Light Art Award will be presented during a festive ceremony in Berlin during January 2015, which will coincide with the beginning of the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies. The ceremony will draw a number members from the lighting, art, and scientific communities, including John Dudley, Chair of the International Year of Light 2015 Steering Committee.
More in-depth information of the Centre for International Light Art Unna or on the ILAA and nominees at:
Those that are not able to visit the gallery can still experience the magic by taking a digital tour of the Centre for International Light Art!
John Jaspers, Director of the Centre for International Light Art in Unna
John Jaspers presently is the director of the Centre for International Light Art in Unna. The museum shows light art installations by renowned light artists from all over the world in the underground exhibition rooms of a former beer brewery. Formerly he was director of the Light Art Museum in Eindhoven, where he also was curator of the international light art Festival GLOW.
John Jaspers studied at the University of Amsterdam, and worked for many years as presenter of current affairs and arts programmes, and later as general manager at various radio- and television stations. He currently lives in Amsterdam and Unna.