From January 31 to February 4, Gent hosted the 2018 Lichtfestival Gent. This festival only happens every three years. Knowing that, I was really looking forward to it, since this will likely be my only opportunity to see it. (Our plan is still that we will only be living here for 3-3 1/2 years, and we have just started year 3!)
The Lichtfestival (Light Festival) featured 37 light-based art installations throughout the city. There are a few reasons this has excited me since I first learned about it:
- The city of Gent has a gorgeous lighting plan to begin with. It is always stunningly beautiful at night. Imagining it full of additional light installations was intriguing.
- I appreciate public art. Art inspires, energizes, and excites me creatively. The idea that our city invites, encourages, and promotes large-scale public art displays is just really cool!
- I don’t know if it is specifically a Belgian thing, but since we have moved here, I’ve become aware of 3-D mapping and projection of light and video displays on buildings, and these displays have blown me away. (If this is new to you too, here are some examples: Winter in Antwerp, Passchendaele 100). I knew that some of these would be a part of the Lichtfestival and was eager to see them.
A few weeks prior to the Lichtfestival, the City of Gent and the Visit Gent office (office of tourism) hosted an Instagram contest, the prize being an invitation to a private, preview “instawalk” of the Lichtfestival route, a day before it opened to the public. I entered the contest and was thrilled to be invited to join the walk. It was an honor to be given early access to some of the art and the ability to photograph the installations without crowds in the way. It was a privilege to be a part of it and one I don’t take lightly. I have done my best in my “expat experience” to take risks, “go” for things, and jump toward unique experiences that immerse me in the city, and this was definitely a rewarding experience.
It was a humbling experience, too, because many of the other participants were professional photographers (although the press and other professional photographers had a separate tour). They far out-experienced and out-equipment-ed me. In addition to that, I really haven’t attempted a lot of night photography yet, and I worried about the quality of my skills and equipment. I knew I’d be shooting light-based art in challenging light situations. I had to fight back some serious feelings of impostor syndrome. I did my best to cast away any self-doubt and use the opportunity to practice, learn, and just enjoy my city and some awesome art.
I wanted to share this experience in a blog post because I am proud of this as an example of the aforementioned “go-for-it” attitude which I have found to be vitally important for a rewarding expat experience. For any other expats out there reading this, I can’t emphasize enough how much this attitude has helped me since moving abroad. It has truly led me to some unique and fulfilling experiences that I could have just as easily missed if I had let any fear, self-doubt, or introverted impulses guide my choices. To be clear, I have a lot of fear, self-doubt, and introverted impulses. I have just tried my hardest to not let them be my guide and it has paid off.
I also wanted to share this experience because I wanted to share some pictures and show off the amazing Gent Lichtfestival! So, without further ado, here they are. Enjoy!