Lviv Laser Lights

  •  Contemporary  laser artist Erwin Redl
  • Lviv Laser Lights
Issue 16, September 2009.

Born in Austria, contemporary laser artist Erwin Redl has worked and lived in New York since 1993. Redl works with LED lights in close-set square grids to create light installations that have been described as “mesmerizing”. He recently lit up one of Lviv’s most recognisable landmarks, decorating the medieval walkway of the city’s ancient walled defences as the headliner of the late summer Week of Contemporary Art.

Your first visit to Lviv was actually in April – what were your first impressions of Lviv?
My first impression was at the airport, which is small, cozy place that appealed
to me because of its unhurried manner. There was no need to run from one terminal to another, and it is close to the city centre itself. After settling in I was soon taken on a guided tour of the city’s beautiful downtown area, which is extremely picturesque. This was not my first visit to the former Soviet Union I had actually been to Russia when it was still part of the USSR, and so I was particularly excited to meet new acquaintances and communicate with the Lviv locals.

How did you choose the location for your recent Lviv installation?
All my projects and installations are spacious in nature and depend very much on the environment they are in, so we investigated several options. One possibility was the basement of Lviv’s Ideas Museum, but that turned out to be a little too cramped. We also considered the courtyard area outside the Dzyga Art Centre, but that did not really offer enough space or provide the right ambience for what I had in  mind. The eventual location was ideal in every respect – it gave me the right amount of space and also provided a wonderful wooden walkway! The acoustics were also ideal – my projects generally include a musical element, so this was also a big plus point.

What has been your impression of the state of contemporary art in today’s Lviv, and how does it fit into the broader global trends you are witnessing?
In my opinion there are no specific trends right now in the contemporary art world. I think the genre in which an artist chooses to work is not too crucial, the key is to explore it to the full. I find my work not only creative but also a form of research into the human psyche. I’m interested in exploring how human brain processes reality.

Do you get a lot of requests to produce works for private collectors?
You will find my works in some private collections, but the peculiarity of my art is that it requires an inordinate amount of space in which to display it, so not every private collector would have the facilities to make use of it. During my initial April visit to Lviv I actually met with a number of local businessmen who expressed an interest in purchasing some of my works, but we shall have to see if anything comes of it. The main problem all private collectors face today is a lack of funds.

Have you enjoyed Lviv’s traditional cuisine?
I have been lucky enough to sample many dishes and I would comment that everything I have tasted has been very fresh, which is an important factor in any national cuisine. Each time I’ve had a meal I have had the sense that it has been specially prepared for me.

Which Lviv landmark has most impressed you?
The one place which has left the greatest single impression on me is the city’s ancient Armenian Cathedral – I’ve been there many times to admire the frescos and paintings. It is staggering and humbling that something so old can still exert such an influence on the human mind. As an Austrian native I am naturally also drawn to Lviv’s Habsburg heritage and although I am not much of an historian I still find it fascinating to think that so many nationalities have lived in this city throughout the centuries.