Nuit Blanche, Amiens

The University of Brighton and White Nights sent students from Graphic Design, Illustration and Moving Image BA and several of us from the Fine Art FdA to visit Amiens in France, as Saturday night was Nuit Blanche there. It was an excellent trip, and a brilliant experience to have the opportunity to be there not only as a participant experiencing all the art and events, but as an observer, witness to the execution and planning involved in staging such a large event. The event was really well organised, as was our trip. Works were situated at various points around the city, including the local swimming pool, cloisters, parks and squares, along with smaller galleries and clubs.

Highlights of the art we saw include Francoise Genot’s ‘Junga’ (as shown above). Engaging with an ancient stately tree in a green in the heart of the commercial part of town, this work was delicately created in-situ from wood fresh from the sawmill, and lit with a red light that alluded to embers. It was as if the tree itself was swooping to the ground and exploding into matchsticks (although each was over 2m long). It was elegant and powerfully melancholic, well considered in execution and placement.

Eclair d’Instants at the Maison du Theatre was, as name of the venue suggests, a work to be walked through and engage with. Working with the idea of the human interaction between each other and the world around us, it featured a series of spaces. The first was a laundry room with a selection of everyday clothing hung out, lit in a cold light, and the air was heaving with the taste of washing powder. The light was dazzling, and the laundry typically clostrophobic, particularly with the other visitors in the space with us. On it’s own as a piece of work I enjoyed it, the clothes hung out to dry in a dark cramped space, it spoke of the mundane mixing of men and women, yet was arranged with touching care.
The next space was a large dark room filled with transparent mannequins of male and female in various illustrations of interactions highlighted by shifting spotlights. This was accompanied by sound, and the mannequins included a variety of domestic and decorative forms. One wall featured beautifully crafted teardrops falling into a still pool. Independently, I felt that some of these features could be really interesting, but all together they seemed jumbled and overly verbose.
Outside we encountered the lit bottom half of a mannequin with a branch sprouting from it. The simple execution was delightful following the previous room, and being placed on a bench with a backdrop of actual trees was a pleasing commentary on our struggle to reconnect with nature; incomplete, yet illuminated..

The highlight for me was the light and movement installation by Atsara, Monde(s)
Crossing some water on a dark bridge and arriving in a dark square of trees, we found a beautiful display of lights dancing in the air, floating and fleeting, with a deep earthy base of sound. It was sublime and transfixing, and spending time offered a moment of calm serenity from the bustle of the town. Studying how it was produced revealed a tangle of wire suspended below the leaf line, which were lit with focussed light so as to appear to contain the light within. Stunning.

The biggest disappointment was Antigravity by Steve Geliot (with Jean Danile Beauvallet and Andrew Walker). Featuring a huge suspended inflated ball with integrated screen, the work is hung from a crane, and images and film are projected onto it. The work was blown away from the projection by the wind, and so high up all sense of scale was lost. This work has been much anticipated for out White Night event here in Brighton on the 30th October, so hopefully the artists will have some time to iron out some of the technical difficulties. I look forward to seeing it here then.

A big thank you to the organisers and the people of Amiens for their hospitality and hard work.

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