Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Jerusalem Light Festival 2012~Just the Free Stuff...

A few weeks ago we walked to the Old City to view the light festival. There were many venues, however, many were claiming that this year does not compare to the past years. My friend at Shearim, has posted many pictures on her site. She also makes a comparison to last year's show. Do visit her blog. 

We followed the routes on the map and while it was nice to be able to walk freely in all parts of the Old City, it was a lot of walking with not as much to see we had expected. Regardless, it was a beautiful evening, and everyone seemed to be in a happy mood.

Many times there are concerns with going into the Arab quarter of the city, but this evening, it was quite pleasant, with many vendors out offering their goods and of course lots of food and drinks!

On the way up to Jaffa gate at Tzahal Square. there was a rather odd installation called "Tubes". I really don't know how to describe it, but for some reason it reminded me of an old horror film where a large spider was creating havoc.

 There was a lot of talk about the huge dome in front of Jaffa Gate~rising twenty-three meters into the air and measuring about twenty meters across. The brochure claims it is supposed to resemble a building from the Italian Renaissance, however, it was more like a mosque, and many said they though of the dome sitting on the Temple Mount when they saw it~a lot of people were not pleased. 
Our mayor and politicians are always trying to appease the Muslim sector, but in the end they are only belittling the Jewish history of our city, which shows weakness and pleases nobody. In fact, as we walked the city~Our City~it was hard to find anything that actually represented it's Jewish nature. I keep praying that one day we will elect officials who are not ashamed of being Jews and will proudly have our heritage on display too. 

At the entrance to Jaffa Gate they handed out a brochure that included a map of the routes (below) and a description of the various venues.
We only viewed the free displays and even then, by the time we completed the route it was already past midnight. Below are pictures that I took as we walked along the (free) trails. We started at Jaffa Gate, going to the right along the Orange Trail. You can see the routes on the map (above).
Dragons & Wizards
 As we entered the Jaffa Gate there were children and adults dressed in creative dragon costumes, but I was unable to get a clear picture as they were moving and people were crowding crowding around also trying to take pictures. 

Some venues were quite interesting, such as number four on the map, the "Faces of Jerusalem" shown in the Armenian Patriarchate Street. 

A giant oval representing a face was reflected on a building. There was a continuous flow of scenes and facial expressions which was the artists idea of Jerusalem (hmmm). A couple were a bit scary and others were just strange. There were some very unusual ones, but by the time we got close enough they were gone and although we waited, after some time we decided to move on. The foot traffic did come to a stop there, so it clearly had people's attention. Here are just a few examples...

Face of Israel??
Just Strange
A Bit Scary

All With Light!
Face of Jerusalem Stone
Face of UK

Another interesting installation was the "Visual Piano" shown as Number five on the map. The music interacts with amazing 3D lighting that filled the surrounding walls and garden.

The visuals provided a sense of surreality, and no matter how many times one watched, it was amazing to see how light and reflection can change a plain old rock wall into evolving, moving things.

We wandered about and eventually ended up in Hurva Sqare, just beneath the beautifully reconstructed Hurva Synague. I remember when it was under construction and the opening. I recommend everyone try to daven there at least once.

In the square itself had an interactive sculpture of light, while surrounding it were many booths selling various fixtures and light decorations.

The light fixture rotated and changed colours as people approached. The square itself is a "central point" so it was not surprising that many people were sitting, walking and just generally enjoying the atmosphere before moving on to the Kotel, or to follow the light trails to the other venues.

One of the best features was in the Jewish Quarter, where Orange presented "Clear". A 3D video show created on the Rothschild building as music was performed on an Earth Harp. This is a massive thing which consisted of cable (strings) that ran from the stage, tens of meters to the buildings across the square. The artist, William Close, wears special gloves, with which he produces inique sounds. The video below does not do justice to the performance but does give an idea of what we saw.

The performances were continuous, with the only a five minute break between~Amazing!

During the day children play among the columns near the Cardo, but on this night the area was filled with people.  At one end was a light display which ran continuously. At the other end people were posing in front of the huge wall mural depicting life in earlier times. There was a huge crowd with everyone trying to look like they were part of the painting.

The columns and ancient rock walls are very old and of great interest. The problem when you attend something like the festival is that you really don't get a chance to take it all in. It is a site that is well worth re-visiting.

We continued to follow the "light trails" with the crowds. I have always loved strolling through the Old City at night, although, it is much nicer without the crowds of people!

The warm night was good for business for those selling food and drink. One ambitious vendor had a whole table of freshly pressed juices, and they were selling very quickly on this warm night. There is nothing like a cool, fresh fruit or nana drink!

On another corner we saw an impressive table filled with long rolls of Halva. People were crowding in as he began cutting it into squares anxious to make a purchase. I have to admit that it really looked appealing!

You can see from the map that there were many, many displays not including the venues with entrance fees. I took many pictures, but in the end there was too much to see in just a few hours.  I would recommend going for two or three nights to browse~it is also easier on the feet!

As we were following the last light trail through the Muslim quarter we noticed a house that had an impressive picture placed prominently over the door. I was told, that the picture is important because it indicates that the family has been to Mecca for the Haj. The lady of the house was very happy that we noticed the plaque and seemed pleased that we took pictures. She was dressed very modestly, and I did not want to be offensive, so did not include her in the photo.
We ended up exiting via Damascus Gate, which was a huge display in itself. Using lite and electronics the entire gate was turned into a huge pinball game!

On the upper level near the street, people were taking turns playing the game and one could watch the progress on the gate. At each side, (light) leaves began falling until the walls were solid green. It was very impressive!

Leaving the Damascus pinball behind we turned towards Jaffa Road. Along the way were a few more installations.

Many people were walking toward the "green space" which was full of benches to sit and rest. But, they were not ordinary benches, they were "light benches".

Everyone was sitting or posing for pictures as the benches changed colours from blue to shades of pink and red. It was visible for quite a distance, and gave the entire area a very peaceful feeling. Indeed, many were just relaxing and enjoying the evening.

Under the wall we spotted a bike on a small wooden stand with the wheels lit up. They were shutting down so I did not really get the idea, but apparently, when you spin the wheels the lights change colours. All we could see was a lone guard who looked a bit bored~or maybe he was just tired from standing there all night!

The very last installation titled Key Frames was actually very good! It consisted of a series of "stick men" made out of light tubes. They were "brought to life" by the tubes switching on and off combined with sound effects. There were various scenes~one was a football game. We were too tired to wait for it to run again. It was very interesting and people stayed to watch it over and over. Here is a sample:

All in all it was time well spent. This event has turned into an annual thing, and as more people become interested the displays increase. It is a great way to spend an evening or two, and see the Old City. As for the crowds, "everyone" was relaxed, and happy, and just enjoying a beautiful summer evening in Jerusalem. This year they had a number of events that  charged entrance fees~a practice I hope will not catch on. There are many people in Israel who just can't afford to pay for entertainment in these times. These displays, freely available for people to walk through are something that everyone can see and enjoy!

As they say...Next Year in Jerusalem!
Lights & Ruins
Alone on the Wall

Follow the Blue Light!
Bubble Wrap People
Closing Down

No comments:

Israel, Jerusalem, Judaism, Zionism, Middle East, Aliyah, Conversion, and everything else that pops up