Arts & Entertainment

Roosegaarde studio plunges Dutch city into darkness to enjoy night sky

By Imane Rachidi

The Hague, Dec 14 (EFE).- For Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde viewing the stars is a right everyone should enjoy but light pollution has disconnected 80% of the world’s population from the surrounding universe.

In a bid to reverse this situation his studio, in collaboration with Unesco, has teamed up with the city of Franeker in the Netherlands to switch off its bright lights at night so citizens can look up and appreciate the swathes of stars scattered across the night sky.

“I realized that we have this amazing light performance in our sky, the stars, but we don’t see them because of light pollution, and so what if we were to switch off, in collaboration with the city and the municipality and inhabitants, all the lights for one night and we would bring back the stars, as a sense of wonder, as a sense of feeling connected,” he told Efe Tuesday ahead of the launch of his new project.

Seeing Stars taps into a recurring theme for Roosegaarde where light-drenched installations in urban environments have entranced viewers across the globe.

“Light has always been for me not decoration but communication in the work I have done in the last ten years. The stars that we are seeing are 1 million to 10 million years old, and they are speeding towards us at the speed of light, 300,000 kilometers per second,” Roosegaarde mused.

“Looking at the stars is immersive (…) makes you aware of the meaning you have as a person,” he mused.

Roosegaarde had been toying with this idea for around three years and the pandemic lockdowns were what pushed him to pursue the concept working with Franeker’s city authorities which has a rich connection to astronomy, making it a perfect place for his vision.

Around 80-90% of the light we see at night is “unnecessary and unneeded”, according to the artist who seeks to address this issue by switching lights off in a controlled way to recover something that humanity has lost and can look forward to enjoying again in cities like Leiden, Venice, Stockholm, Reykjavik and Sydney where the project will tour.

And it is not just about enjoying the beauty of a night sky; Unesco considers access to viewing the stars a universal heritage, Dutch representative Kathleen Ferrier added.

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