until the 21st of january 2018, 36 artworks will illuminate amsterdam. artists from australia, belgium, china, canada, england, germany, indonesia, italy, japan, kosovo, the netherlands, russia, and the united states will display their work at the 2017-2018 amsterdam festival of lights. this year’s theme is ‘existential.’ visitors may walk, cycle or ride in boats along the festival’s two exposition sites. 21 artworks light the city’s historic canals and 15 light the land, marineterrein amsterdam.

whole hole | paul vendel and sandra de wolf | amsterdam festival of lights 2017-2018
all images courtesy of janus van den eijnden



cecil balmond’s infinita stands out in the water. tessellated, colorful, and protruding sharply from peaceful ripples, balmond has created a beautiful distraction to hide her true intention: is the essence of existence something we see, touch, and feel, a jagged creation floating peacefully above water, or is existence holding its breath beneath the surface of something greater?

infinita | cecil balmond | amsterdam festival of lights 2017-2018


driton selmani’s eye to eye protects amsterdam from existential evils. not omnipresent in appearance, but certainly omniscient in a peacefully-unsettling, digitally-cartoony way, the nazaar-amulet-inspired sapphire blue eye deflects malicious gazes in a time when surreal blue eyes have been replaced by real privacy invading. government agencies, billion dollar companies. we are watched all the time by the agenda of others. eye to eye’s only agenda is awareness and sweet, mesmerizing peace.

eye to eye | driton selmani | amsterdam festival of lights 2017-2018




whole hole by paul vendel and sandra de wolf may be seen from afar, across the herengracht canal, and up close, on top of an old brick bridge, but whole hole isn’t meant to be seen at all. it’s meant to be entered. viewers that skip dessert for a boat tour may be pulled slowly into a kind of wormhole of bending light and out again: same reality, new perspective. the boat tour runs through the oosterdok, across the nieuwe herengracht, amstel and via the herengracht back to central station.

thinline | ai weiwei | amsterdam festival of lights 2017-2018



it seems that the festival’s water exposition has answered the call of existentialism with astounding flash and flare; however, as omniscient as the nazar eye is, as alluring and as catching as whole hole, infinita, and others are, perhaps the most stand out work is not a giant eye, or giant sculpture, or wormhole, but a single red light that divides amsterdam in two. designed by artist and activist, ai weiwei, thinline is not particularly luminescent, or intricately placed; it simply weaves in and out of other installations and canals and roads. the 6.5km light in red represents a border of infinite questions. which side are you on? which side do you want to be on? who decides what side you’re on? how vulnerable is the border? how vulnerable is the light?

thinline | ai weiwei | amsterdam festival of lights 2017-2018



on land, marineterrein amsterdam, within walking distance of central station, viewers can experience yasuhiro chida’s sun-inspired brocken 6 A, alexp’s installation existential: a collection of individuals and more. alexp’s hangs 576 led lights from a circular frame. each light marks a spot on the ground and together the spots of light form a circle. but he circle is not static; the frame is not invulnerable; wind, a welcomed and unpredictable factor, keeps everything in motion.

homeward bound | victor engbers | amsterdam festival of lights 2017-2018



visitors can explore all fifteen artworks on marineterrein amsterdam at any given time. the land exposition at marineterrein is a meeting point for visitors, locals, and artists to readings about light art, interact in public performances, and participate in conversation. the artworks — land and water — are lit daily between 17.00 and 23.00. from amsterdam central station, the exhibition may light a path, but paths are not necessary. explore and forge a path of light at your own initiative. 

city gazing amsterdam | VOUW | amsterdam festival of lights 2017-2018

MYTH | ben zamora | amsterdam festival of lights 2017-2018

kattenburgstraat | peter vink | amsterdam festival of lights 2017-2018

the life of a slime mold | nicole banowetz | amsterdam festival of lights 2017-2018




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