Chicago’s century-old Garfield Park Conservatory—one of the largest greenhouse conservatories in the country—has been referred to as “landscape art under glass.” This fall, landscape art will meet contemporary art when Luftwerk, the artistic vision of Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero, brings a series of large-scale, responsive light and sculptural installations to the horticultural monument.
Luftwerk’s solarise: a sea of all colors, presented in collaboration with the City of Chicago, opens September 23, and will last for a year, beginning and ending on the autumnal equinox. Solarise will honor the Conservatory, a paragon of naturalistic landscape design, which opened in 1908, as well as its principal designer, landscape architect Jens Jensen (1860–1951). Jensen saw the importance of preserving and celebrating local and native plants and materials and believed that urban populations needed opportunities to interact with nature. Solarise will celebrate Jensen’s ideals and shine a (literal) light on the Conservatory, underscoring the importance of nature in urban society and city planning—vital themes we've seen in other Chicago public art installations this year.
Solarise will comprise five immersive, site-specific installations:
• The Beacon will comprise arcs of dynamic LED lights over the Palm House Dome that reflect shifts in wind speed across the city. The lights’ responsive movements will mimic the sway of Midwestern prairie grass blowing in the wind.
• In Portal, mirrored panels will frame the reflecting pool and “prairie waterfall,” drawing visitors’ gazes onto themselves and back into the center of the Conservatory.
• Florescence will be a patterned web of red and blue petals suspended above the Show Room. Using sunlight during the day and LEDs at night, the installation will draw attention to the light spectrum necessary for photosynthesis.
• For the kinetic chandelier Seeds of Light, drops of water caught in trays will create dynamic ripples in the light in the Horticulture Hall.
• Prismatic will employ responsive light and sound elements in the Desert House.
The energy used to power the LED light installations will be offset by solar panels.
Luftwerk explores “what makes a space a place and how art plays a vital role within urban and natural environments.” They are known for their immersive site-specific light art installations at architectural landmarks, such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater and the Millennium Park in Chicago. Bachmaier and Gallero spoke with ArtSlant in 2014 about INsite, Luftwerk’s installation at Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House in Plano, Illinois, last October. Read the complete interview here.
—The ArtSlant Team
(Images courtesy of the artists and the City of Chicago)