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Illuminus Festival presents diverse roster of digital artists

Celina Colby
Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Illuminus Festival presents diverse roster of digital artists
lluminus 2018 Laser Lights in DTX. PHOTO: COURTESY BOSTON BID

On Dec. 5 and 6, Downtown Boston will burn bright with the digital and light-based artwork of over 16 different artists during the Illuminus Boston festival. Guest curator David Guerra of A R E A Gallery has specifically chosen a diverse group of artists with work focusing on social, political and environmental issues.

Illuminus 2018 Cubes. PHOTO: COURTESY BOSTON BID

Illuminus 2018 Cubes. PHOTO: COURTESY BOSTON BID

In its fifth year, the festival will be held in a more concentrated section of Downtown Boston this winter to allow viewers to see more of the work. Specifically, artwork will be on view in the financial district in areas like High Street, Summer Street, Federal Street, Milton Place and others. The festival is free and open to the public.

Festival visitors will walk through the neighborhood experiencing and, by nature of the projection style, participating in, the artworks. Artists use film, sound, projection, light and performance to convey their messages. Guerra says some of the issues tackled in the festival include the Boston housing crisis, immigration, environmental neglect and gender identities.

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“We’re turning downtown into basically a supersized gallery. It’s like a big, urban canvas that we’re activating together,” says Guerra. “We’re excited about including everyone and making art accessible.”

Mexican artist Arantxa Araujo, who works out of New York City, will be enacting a performance piece in and around film projects during Illuminus. Araujo has a background in neuroscience and explores in her work the way art changes the brain through sensorimotor stimuli. Her piece for Illuminus will explore the way people remain connected across borders on both an emotional and scientific level.

“It’s exploring ideas of quantum entanglement and how particles that once were connected remain somehow connected despite vast distances,” she says. “It’s a socially engaged project and performance exploring the idea of Latinx bodies shining bright in dark moments. The perception of Latinx bodies sometimes is not what I would like it to be, so through engagement and light and LEDS, I’m hoping to change that.”

Araujo will wear a suit of lights and move within her film projections, engaging in small ways with audience members, executing a series of repetitive motions and at times just existing in the space, something she says is rare in the contemporary world.

For both Araujo and Guerra, accessibility to innovative artwork is key to the Illuminus event. Araujo says, “I believe that not everyone has the ability to buy a ticket for the theater. Theater and even movies become a little bit more elite. This art form is for everyone.”

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