I didn’t see the inaugural Le Flash event last year, and arrived in Castleberry Hill last night expecting something like a raucous gallery walk.
Organizers call Le Flash “a yearly ephemeral arts celebration that would deepen the significance of contemporary art Atlanta,” which can mean…anything. Some key characteristics drew me to it: art, performances, outdoors, all-night and free.
The only thing it had in common with a gallery walk, though, was that my feet hurt after wandering the neighborhood so long. A gallery walk usually requires active participation — the decision to walk in, look around, have a cookie, maybe buy something. For an organized event, Le Flash looked and felt like something spontaneous was happening all around us, something you can’t buy and take home. I chose to be there, but some clearly stumbled into the all-over art project while driving through or having dinner.
For me, everything about art (dance, especially) becomes more relevant when it’s dropped into an everyday space. No tickets, no assigned seats, no boundaries that decide who gets the best view or the most meaningful experience. I loved this, and as Le Flash works toward becoming a non-profit, I look forward to what the organizers produce next, and to the rest of Atlanta Celebrates Photography.
Here’s why I loved it:
1. All of Castleberry Hill seemed into it.
I imagine some residents turned on white noise machines and pulled pillows over their heads, but windows were open, people wandered and almost every business had the lights on. The event map showed installations, shows and activities throughout the neighborhood, and the reality seemed even more alive.
2. Everyone took the “light” theme and ran like mad.
Human fireflies. Projections on walls. Photography murals. Wearable light. Safety lights. Balls of light. Light from police cars, Turner Field fireworks, street lights, camera flashes. More glow sticks than I’ve seen since elementary school roller skating parties. Some of this light-based artwork was curated by Le Flash creators, but I suspect just as much came from people who showed up with something to add, whether it was the blinking of the light on their bicycle or a glowing costume. (Speaking of camera flashes, here are more photos from Creative Loafing’s Joeff Davis.)
3. Art was unexplained, but everywhere.
I won’t pretend to understand most of it. I have no explanation for a group of dancers that rubber stamped a dog in the crowd, or the projections on the side of the storage facility or the glowing candy-necklace-looking installation. I loved, though, that we seemed to get sucked into a parade or a performance or a shared experience every time we crossed a street.
4. Streetlife matters.
It’s not just that art was everywhere — it’s that it was public. Art is already a constant in Castleberry Hill. The galleries, restaurants, stores and living spaces are living examples of contemporary art. But this was individual and group art in common spaces, with no need to walk through a door or pay in advance. It was on the sidewalks, on the road, in alleys, on buildings and pedestrian bridges. It was literally moving down the street, in gloATL’s “Pour” performance, and a number of other impromptu parades and traveling works. Atlanta feels like an entirely different city when so many people share a public space for a shared, public sensation.
5. It was a perfect night to be outside in Atlanta.
Early October in North Georgia=win.
What did you think? Share your opinion in the comments!
For instant updates, follow @insideaccess on Twitter.