Lights in the City Favorite 

Practitioner: 

Date: 

Jan 1 1999

Location: 

Montreal

Montreal: The City of Lights

In Canada Alfredo Jaar completed a project referred to as Lights in the City, in 1999. Keep in mind this is considered one of the richest cities in North America. with a large population of homeless individuals. Is there not a way, for such a rich city, to help people in dire need of just basic necessities?

This is a historic landmark which had burnt around five times before Jaar completed this project. The building is called Copula of the Marche Bonsecours. There were approximately a hundred thousand watts of red lights installed within the Copula so that when a button is mashed the copula lights up with a red color inside of it very brightly so that it can be seen all around the city of Montreal. Detonating devices have been placed in multiple places such as Accueil Bonneau, la Maison Eugenie Bernier and la Maison Paul Gregoire, and homeless shelters that are located within five hundred yards of the Cupola. Each time a homeless individual enters one of these areas they are free to push the buttons located within these areas so that the Cupola will light up inside with bright red colors. The entire point of this is to allow homeless individuals to be recognized as a person within the city without humility.

This project can be viewed in many different ways:

The first way is that a photograph is taken each time that a homeless person presses one of these buttons. This individual is actually asking for help and recognition. By recognition this way the dignity and privacy of the individual is preserved. Also when referring to this as a photograph there is actually no material photo made but the Cupola lights up brightly with red colors, so in a sense a photo is made allowing the individual to be recognized with dignity and respect. This light lets the society the need of this individual. This is unacceptable is an area with so many resources.

The second way of interpreting the light being displayed is that it can be read as a threat fire, such as the previous fires that have occurred at the Copula. This sign of fire being displayed portrays the drastic tragedy that has destroyed the Copula in the past, however, now this light displays another tragedy homelessness. The Copula is not threatened itself but rather society itself.
Hopefully, one day all of the homeless shelters can have these devices installed within them, allowing this historic landmark in the city to act as an endless non-stop lighthouse that sends distress signals to society.

Posted by stefan on