The Spider at the Light Festival

Contributed by Carmen Summerfield

On a recent trip to Amsterdam, I visited the 7th annual Amsterdam Light Festival, which happens every year, December through January. This festival is a showplace for contemporary international artists, architects and designers to display their unique sculptures with light. These creations are then displayed around downtown Amsterdam and can be accessed via a self-guided walking tour as well as a boat tour.

One of my favorite sculptures was the biggest spider I have ever seen, called “Spider on the Bridge”.

This monumental sculpture is by the French collective Groupe LAPS, and consists of no less than eighty spiders, each 6-feet wide, made of tubes containing LED light. The light is programmed in such a way that the spiders appear to be actually crawling around, which brings them to life and creates a cross between sculpture and stop-motion animation. Unfortunately, my pictures don’t convey this motion, but seeing it in person made me think I was in a sci-fi movie!

The French Groupe LAPS is a collective of artists who are interested in using light in urban environments to tell stories. Comprising video makers, artists, musicians and lighting experts, the group create technical pieces that enchant audiences. Groupe LAPS’ work swings between reality and fiction, and their fleeting installations always have long-lasting impacts.

Our modern society is fascinated by gigantic spiders. Think of Aragog and his spider family in Harry Potter, or the evil Shelob in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. And who could forget my sculpture “Cabby Long Legs” at the 2008 Alaska State Fair?

Now I have something to look forward to when the days get shorter in December. Should we create some unique light sculptures here in the Valley? Don’t miss this opportunity to support the arts in the Valley!