A peacock peeping out of a tree can leave many mesmerised. But, when this turns out to be a projection, it’s difficult to not feel ecstatic. A similar impact was created when myriad motifs took shape on the trees of Embassy of Switzerland in the city, recently. Viewers were spellbound, and why not, for these projections were conceived and created by light artist, Gerry Hofstetter, who has previously illuminated icebergs, the Colosseum, the Great Pyramids, and Washington Cathedral among many others.
Hofstetter, elated on delivering his maiden performance in India, confessed why he held himself back from showcasing his art here, until now. “I always wanted to come to India as I used to travel a lot. But I was afraid, because I knew that if I come as too young a man, I will fall in love with the country and not return home,” he shares with a straight face, making it difficult to believe that someone who has travelled across 87 countries in 30 years, could feel so overwhelmed at the thoughts of visiting India.
The charm that this land of varied cultures has on many, struck Hofstetter as well. He admits, “I always had the feeling that India will catch me with its spirit. It’s the land of light and colours where the culture is more than 5,000 years old. You are ahead of all the countries in how to treat Nature, and I knew I have to wait till I’m matured and become an old wise man before I come here. I’m ready for India now.”
The light art innovator-filmmaker-author believes strongly in the power of culture, and even seeks inspiration from it. “Culture is the only peaceful tool that can being people together. Culture, sports and of course, art are where people exchange ideas. Culture is always the character of the region or the nation, so I knew that here in the garden of the embassy, [we could show] the beautiful animals and mountains as both the nations — India and Switzerland — have very high end art and culture. So I decided to mix this and decided to project it on the trees,” he explains.
Patterns from temples, animals from India and Switzerland, and henna (mehendi) designs were some of the projections that the artist showcased for a select audience at the embassy. This, however, is not all that he has in store for art aficionados in India. “I’m very happy when I can realise something that I had in my mind,” confesses the Swiss national, adding, “Since 2003, I’m planning for a project in India, which will probably come here next year. The pictures for it, I’ve already selected, 19 years ago. 80% of my projections are not visible directly because they are on dangerous places — in the high mountains, in minus 30 degrees, in the desert, etc. But when I see them in real, that’s what makes me more happy.”
As he goes on researching in his genre of art, he even encounters the accusations of causing “light pollution”, head on. In his defence, he says, “You see my projections in Nature, along the mountains. I created Tiger on Eiger, which is the largest light art, almost 5.3 kilometers long, on a Swiss peak. It took a year and 22 trials to get right the conditions of the weather, snow, and all they say is that it’s light pollution? My projections are 17 times less than full moon projections by night! And it looks great in the photos because you can get long-time exposure.”
Though Diwali has come to an end, its lingering effect could be felt in the presence of marvellous light projections that Hofstetter brought to India. The one thing that never changes about light, he feels, is that it will be “always be the same at the starting point”. Stating how “everything on our planet needs sunlight” the artist elucidates, “Using light as a communication and mixing it with colours, any person will love it because light is an element which is inside us and we cannot deny it. Light, colours, music and love are in fact the four elements that anyone in the world can understand without knowing the language. My art is very easy actually. At the end, it should be just wow!” he wraps up.
Author tweets @HennaRakheja