Light festival turns Mexico City into a surreal nocturnal canvas


As night falls on Mexico City, the buildings suddenly crawl to life with a creepy assortment of fantastic creatures — from a psychedelic praying mantis, to a dancing skeleton.

It’s all part of the International Festival of Lights (FILUX), which last week blanketed the Mexican capital with shimmering light art in a project that seeks to reclaim public space by providing free, innovative and accessible art.

Festival organizers said they found Mexico City to be an architectural backdrop that light artists dream of.

“After visiting different festivals around the world, we decided to innovate and make a light festival with a Mexican touch, not only involving light projections on the facades of renowned buildings, but mixing Mexico’s rich cultural history to create a unique festival that has become the first of its kind,” said FILUX director David Di Bona.

Artists incorporated imagery from Mexico’s “Day of the Dead” celebration, to the country’s famous Alebrijes, dreamlike figures of animals and monsters invented by renowned Mexican artisan Pedro Linares in 1936.

Linares was haunted by nightmares and channeled his wild imagination into wooden sculptures and cartoons. At FILUX, participating artists such as Benjamin Huerta proudly reinvented some of his iconic work.

The festival also shined a creative light on the country’s social and political problems. Artist Monica Luz Loyola’s work was called “Absence,” which focused on the disappearances of women in Ciudad Juarez, a northern city afflicted with a high number of femicides and disappearances.

The festival, she said, is about illuminating the dark.

“To me light is a symbol of expectations, a hope of life, a hope of something more,” Loyola said.

The festival also brought literal light to some of the darkest alleys in the city’s historic center, allowing chilangos — as residents of Mexico City are known — to venture out into parts of their city that are otherwise considered too dangerous after dark.

“I am walking in areas of the city center where I would never dare go after dark,” said Carolina Lomeli. “But somehow all these people are coming together to see the art on the streets. It makes us feel like we’re in a safe place and it help us  discover other areas of the city with a different set of eyes.”

More than 2 million visitors poured into the city center to view the light exhibitions last week.

Freelance Photographer.
Interested in social justice, human rights, women voices, travelling and learning.
Currently working on a project about women migration from Central America and Mexico to the US.

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