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enlightened city

09.10.2010 01.05.2011
Buylecharles Indeschaduwvan Sint Baafs 1934 Archief Provinciaal Fotomuseum Antwerpen

Curator: Terenja van Dijk

A city is a permanent ‘chiaroscuro show’: squares bathe in sunlight, tower blocks cast their shifting shadows, town houses reach for the light, a cheerful cacophony of light banishes the night, artificial light attacks our biorhythm, dark sides of the city spurn the bright lights… Life in the city is conditioned by light and darkness. The new STAM takes this usually underexposed theme as the starting-point for the first in a fascinating series of temporary exhibitions about urbanity.

light and life

How does a blind person experience the city? That question, so intriguing for sighted people, opens the first STAM exhibition. We set about examining how light and the lack of light affect a city’s development and life in the city. Take the pre-industrial age, when the rhythm of life followed the natural day-night pattern. Did it really? How did light and darkness determine what people did? The introduction of artificial light in the nineteenth century triggered a revolution: night became day, as people said at the time. It had a dramatic effect on all aspects of life: on economic and working life, but also on social life and on the hours we slept.

The exhibition uses documents and diaries, models, paintings, photographs and installations to tell this story. And it does so in an extraordinary location: the old Bijloke Abbey. We also link Ghent with the world: for a twenty-four-hour period a video installation connects the contemporary city with the world through the ‘City One Minutes’ project: one-minute films of cities in different time-zones.

twin models and stained-glass windows

Are we seeing an evolution towards more light in urban development and in the architecture of our homes? Did modernism invent ‘light living’? The exhibition sheds light on several carefully chosen places and buildings.
Using twin models and a sun simulator we examine the incidence of light in the life of striking buildings at two different times in their history.

We end in the old abbey church, the perfect place to take a look at how light is deployed symbolically: STAM’s magnificent collection of stained-glass windows will glint and gleam, we will show how light and propaganda, and faith and light coexist harmoniously, how a light-filled city makes itself the leading light and sets about celebrating light…

Also at STAM

Ghent City Museum

Godshuizenlaan 2 - 9000 Gent
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