23 years ago the municipality of Torino decided to avoid the traditional Christmas illumination and to take advantage of the prestige of the city as the Italian Capital of Contemporary Arts, instead. Therefore, in place of the common lights that are put in place in several cities around the globe at christmas time, it was decided to gather a group of artists and to ask each one of them to provide an installation to placed in the city centre, suitable not only to celebrate Christmas but also the city itself as the cradle of the new trends in arts.
The event lasts every year fron November (which is the month of Contemporary Art) till mid January, thus it covers both the time of the year when arts are celebrated as well as Christmas time. The city becomes an open air museum, installations are everywhere, mostly in the city center but also in some more remote areas to allow every residnet and every visitor to enjoy the event.
The original number of installations was enriched through the past 2 decades, thus nowadays there are approximately 30 installations, some of which were designed for a specific place, while others are displayed every year at a different location, as they are more versatile. Most of the installations were designed by Italian artists but there also is a buch which was supplied by international artists. Although nowadays other cities, in Italy and abroad, started using the same principle, it is Torino which launched the inititive and tranformed a common Christmas-time-stroll around the city into a walk through a colourful open air museum.
Travellers and tourists are very attracted by the event, called Luci D’Artista, thus there also is a set of guided visits to allow a complete view and understanding of the meaning behind each installation. Should you be planning to go visit Torino from November to early January, don’t forget to also book a guided visit to enjoy this extra ordinary and unusual display of art which I can summarize here below with few picture I took in the past few days, in the city centre.
Cosmometrics by Mario Airò. 2020 display in Piazza Carignano
This installation is a set of symbols and geometric figures projected on the pavement. The regular lights are switched off, so the effect is that of white skecthes on the ground.
The Flying Carpet by Daniel Buren
This is one of those installations which were conceived for a specific place. It is displayed every year in the Town Hall Square (Piazza Palazzo di Città) and is made of a number of cubes showing the colours of the French Flag, which is the native country of the artist as well as the primary colours (White, Red and Blue). It covers the whole area of the square as if it actually was a flying carpet.
The Kingdom of Flowers by Nicola De Maria. 2020 display in Piazza Carlina (Piazza Carlo Emanuele II)
This is probably my favourite installation beacuse it’s very colourful and it fits perfectly with every area of the city where it has been previously displayed. The artists covered the regular lamps of Torino with coloured glasses and wrapped them with some fluo stripes in a such a manner to create the idea of a nest embracing a bunch of flowers. Lovely.
The Planetarium by Carmelo Giammello. 2020 display in Via Roma.
This installation runs all along the most popular commercial street of the city: Via Roma. It displays a set of coloured balls connected by blue neon tubes shaping the constellations. The sequence of the constellations from piazza Castello to piazza San Carlo goes as follows: Draco, Virgo, Orion, Sagittarius, Scorpio, and Ursa Major; from piazza CLN to piazza Carlo Felice: Canis Mayor, Boötes, Lepus, Centaurus, Auriga, Pegasus, Leo, and Cygnus.
Cultura = Capitale by Alfredo Jaar. 2020 display in Piazza Carlo Alberto
This is a pretty unique installation. Beside the decorative function, it also convey a very important message as it is always displayed on the facade of the National Library of Torino. It consists of 2 words connected by a = sign to stress out that Culture is the Capital of a Country. Can anyone disagree that education is the key to success of any individual and for any group of individuals gathered together under the colours of a national flag? The intentional placement of the artwork on the façade of the National Library intensifies the signifying force, strengthening the message
Palomar by Guido Paolini. 2020 display in Via Po
An ancient astronomical atlas dotted with planets inscribed in geometric shapes culminating in the profile of an acrobat balancing on a circle. This installation is commonly displayed in Via Po, one of the most important street of the city centre connecting the main square (Piazza Castello) to the river Po, and that is why the street is named after the river itself.
Us, by Luigi Stoisa. 2020 display in via Garibaldi
The figures of a man and a women whose brains penetrate into each other, symbolises how harmony between men and women is possible as might give birth to idea, concepts and other humans. You can pretty often find this installation along via Garibaldi, the longest pedestrian street in town, as well as the longest in Europe.
The art of exploring the woods by Luigi Mainolfi. 2020 display in Via Carlo Alberto
The Art of exploring the woods is a fairytale written by the novelist Guido Quarzo. The artist Luigi Mainolfi turned it into an “open book”, that everyone can read. The fairytales was divided into lines displayed in a sequence thus that reasing it all involved walking all along the street where it is displayed, which for 2020 is one of the most beautiful street of the historic centre called Via Carlo Alberto.
There are many others around the city located so when you come to town be ready to get surprised by some art installations behind a corner you didn’t expect to find anything special.
The full map is available on the official event website called Torino+ Contemporary Art