Despite the downpour, Orange Street lit up Friday evening to celebrate the opening of City Wide Open Studios.
The ephemeral “Fantasmagorie Light Exhibition,” on display between 8 and 9:30 p.m., was installed on a block of Orange Street between Chapel and Crown streets. Featuring works related to this year’s CWOS theme of “dwellings,” “Fantasmagorie” incorporated outdoor light installations as well as indoor displays, utilizing windows in the area’s stores and businesses to display pieces from the exhibition. The exhibit was organized by Artspace, a nonprofit community art organization, in conjunction with guest curator Johannes DeYoung, faculty director of the Digital Media Center for the Arts, and local light artists, including Teto Elsiddique, Aude Jomini, Susan Rogol and Mark Williams. According to Artspace staff, the exhibition considers art’s role in community building, and also “activates” new social spaces in which community members can come together.
“The arts allow for a diversity of people to come together,” said Judy Rosenfeld, a photographer for ArtSpace. “This is a reflection of people from many different cultures here.”
DeYoung said the exhibition’s name, “Fantasmagorie,” has its origins in a 1908 film by French animator Émile Cohl, as well as the larger 19th-century trend of phantasmagoric projection.
He added that he thinks both of these historical allusions, which highlight moments in the history of cinema that predate the medium’s industrialization, have links to the work of contemporary light artists in New Haven.
“[This was] a period when the potentialities and boundaries of moving-image production were incredibly open,” DeYoung explained. “I find many visual artists works occupy this space today and that’s something I wanted [this exhibition] to highlight in our community.”
Among the works presented in “Fantasmagorie” was a piece made of swinging box fans with purple lights that bounced off nearby brick walls. Another piece experimented with spray bottles and an iMac.
Visitors including students, New Haven residents and teachers attended the exhibition.
Bill Richo, who works at the Haas Family Arts Library, said he comes to the exhibition every year, adding that it is always a great experience.
Williams, one of the local artists whose work is featured in “Fantasmagorie,” has been working with light as a medium for nine years. Williams highlighted his experiments with Christmas lights, light drawings and black lights, adding that prior to Friday’s event, he had only seen his work in daylight. He said that he was disappointed in the show’s low turnout, which he said was likely due to inclement weather.
Jomini, another contributing artist, said she had been conceptualizing her submission for a year. To create the piece, Jomini began with a three-dimensional digital model, which she translated into a sculpture and, finally, the “disembodied heads” featured in the final piece, which uses the medium of light to consider a variety of formal and conceptual issues.
“I’m an architect, so I like to think about light and spaces,” Jomini said.
Although DeYoung noted that Orange Street business owners were “incredibly generous,” working collaboratively with their partners at Artspace and Yale to coordinate the exhibition, turnout for the event remains problematic, some visitors said.
“Turnout is just so bad, every year,” said Matthew Hennessy ’17, who attended the exhibition. “Some of these artists work all year for this, and it’s just so sad to see.”
“Fantasmagorie” ended with an after-party at Café Nine, which featured light installations contributed by members of Light Artists Making Places, a collective of light artists.
Artspace is located at 50 Orange St.