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Thursday, 2 August 2012


Mont St Michel

Down the long path to Mont St Michel, the abbey-cum-castle a few meters off the coast of Normandy, across the causeway and up the steep and narrow streets of the medieval town. On uneven cobbles, up uncountable stone stairs, and through a labyrinth of seemingly random rooms and passageways. And it is all worth it, just to be there. Just to experience it. Just to walk in centuries' worth of footsteps of the anonymous and the devout. Just to see the views of land and sand and sea from the top.

But wait there's more.

Turning into one of the larger rooms, you come upon a flight of illuminated letters. Based on the elaborately embellished initial letters painted by monks on manuscripts in earlier times, these letters were painted on glass and suspended from the ceiling. They catch the light of the lowering sun and send it dancing around the room. Art literally enlightens the darkness of the quiet stone room.

You come around a corner, and there are stars projected onto the vaults of the ceiling above a beautiful solo harpist.

In the next space, abstract and changing colour fields of light are projected past spiky constructions and onto stone walls. The harp still audible from the room before, the colors flicker like northern lights around the silhouette of Mont St Michel itself. See the video here.

In another room, figures from manuscripts are projected onto pillars.

A small chapel contains a gold cross suspended above the altar. Its shadow is projected on the ceiling using multiple light sources, creating multiple perspectives. In some, the cross appears as an X, canceling itself out.

Room after room, space after space, overflows with art and music. A solo flautist, a solo cellist. Massive stone walls unable to contain the waves of sound, the insubstantiality of light. The whole abbey turned into an illumination by anonymous artists working in the dark.

Same as it ever was.

In one of the final rooms, a constellation of bare light bulbs hangs from the dark ceiling at various heights. Make a wish. One of them is for you.

All of the light art was created by Kolektiv Alambik. 
All photos by Wendy Stefansson. Video by Ariel Tarpey.

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