Over 15,000 enthusiastic festival-goers were captivated by three days of facade projection shows in Weimar.
The facade projection festival Genius Loci Weimar – now in its third successful year – closed with final performances on Sunday evening. Throughout the weekend (Friday – Sunday), artists presented spectacular facade shows – this year featuring the Anna Amalia Library, the German National Theatre Weimar and the historic city square at Herderplatz. From 9.30 pm until midnight, audiences could experience live these elaborate and unique productions. Despite the poor weather, some 15,000 visitors enjoyed the festival shows.
Festival director Hendrik Wendler summed up the weekend’s events: ‘We are delighted to see that Genius Loci Weimar has once again really resonated with audiences. To see the festival shows live is a unique experience and we are proud that we could present these artists and their productions in Weimar. Our new features – the Genius Loci Lab and the mobile projections of short films – also went down well, adding an extra buzz to the festival atmosphere.’
For audiences at the German National Theatre, the show was above all a sound experience. For their projection ‘Klang3’, Dresden-based artists ruestungsschmie.de and Soundselektor recorded sounds produced by the building itself. Using hands, bows and drumsticks, they ‘played’ columns, windows and doors like musical instruments. This sound composition was visually paired with abstract animated elements taken from theatre architecture.
On the city’s Herderplatz, Xenorama presented their work ‘Moya Façade’. This projection show incorporated the bust of Ohm Kruger, leader of the Boers in South Africa, set in the one facade, and, facing him, the statue of the Enlightenment theologian Johann Gottfried Herder in front of the church bearing his name. Highlighting different aspects of the contrasting philosophical worlds of these two figures, the artists projected vibrantly coloured African patterns and symbols onto the building facade and a shadow play onto the church. As part of the show, a silhouette of Herder’s statue disappeared from the church facade only to reappear moments later on the building with Kruger’s bust.
Similarly, the Italian artists mammasONica delighted audiences with their facade performance at the Duchess Anna Amalia Library, playing with images of fire – as a destructive force and also anima – and charred embers as lockets of time and memory. This was particularly apt, given this year’s tenth anniversary of the fire which heavily damaged the library. Focusing on the Genius Loci – the spirit of the location – the projection ‘Limen’ did more than simply dwell on that fateful event. It was innovative, too, with its diverse illustrative style, featuring stop motion techniques using clay figures, silhouettes and shadow play.
A first this year was the Genius Loci Lab. Here, at the former Künstlerhaus (once an arts complex) behind the Bauhaus Museum, eight teams of young videomapping artists from Germany, Mexico and Argentina experimented with the possibilities of facade projection and held a workshop to examine and question more traditional forms of the genre. Leander Leinenbach, organiser of the Lab and student at the Bauhaus University Weimar, explained the idea behind the project: ‘During the preparation phase we worked together to develop an installation that builds on the existing architecture of the ruins. In this way, viewers can experience the reflection of the location also by day. We also chose to incorporate elements of stage productions, using a dance performance to establish interactivity and smoke and lighting effects to draw in the entire venue and not just one building.’ Working with a stage that was open on all sides allowed visitors to see how projections are made. All the shows were produced live and on location. In developing the projections in only four days, cooperation and dialogue between teams was needed. According to the organiser, ‘the friendly and informal atmosphere that developed amongst the teams shows that we achieved our goal and that everyone will be taking home with them new friendships, knowledge and skills’.
The film walk hosted by A Wall is a Screen on Friday and Saturday evenings also proved popular. Having gathered in the courtyard of the university library, short film aficionados were taken on a city walk by the artists, from one facade to the next – each an unconventional film screen. To increase suspense, films and locations were not revealed in advance. Fans reacted enthusiastically to the many different films – from humorous to thought-provoking. A Wall is a Screen summed up their festival experience: ‘The Genius Loci Weimar Festival was a great opportunity for us to discover, together with our audiences, the spirit of everyday locations in Weimar. With our selection of short films and walls we sure opened up some new angles on the city. We really loved the responses of the audiences and both performances were lots of fun.’
Rounding off Friday’s opening events, Gaswerk Weimar hosted the festival’s club night. Visual treats included an installation with violet-coloured laser light (Sebastian Wolf), inside the club, a perspex construction involving table tennis balls (SYç) and an exterior projection by Lotus Lumina. Club sounds were provided by Technotürken (Berghain, Berlin), Deer (Giegling Records), Peter Kirn/Nerk (V-Records Berlin) and Marcel Machedanz (Tanz und Klangkombinat).
To accompany the installations and events on Friday evening, the festival held its first tweetup. Festival-goers with a Twitter account were invited to meet up to report live on the event. As they visited the projection venues, under the hashtag #glw14, users tweeted videos, photos and messages of no more than 140 characters on the facade projection shows. In turn, these messages were re-tweeted by followers throughout Germany. All the tweets can be found under this hashtag.