A Merry and Particularly Bright Christmas at the SNFCC

Along with the twinkle lights, five striking light installations created by international artists are on show at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center.

One hundred and twenty columns of light illuminate the main footpath crossing the park of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center on Athens’ southern coast. Titled “Pompe” (or Procession), the clear light emitting from the geometrically placed columns on either side of the path leading up to the Lighthouse venue evokes the hustle and bustle of the city’s streets, but at the same time gives one an almost metaphysical, dreamlike feeling of being in a separate, private reality.

 “We were inspired by the existing geometry and architecture of the space,” the creators of the light installation, architect George Nikas and visual artist Eleni Maragaki, told newspaper Kathimerini.


“We wanted to create an artistic event that is activated and switched off by the presence of people, while the light columns tacitly represent human figures that ‘walk’ with the visitors on this ceremonial march,” explained the artists.

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“Pompe” is one of five striking light installations on show at the SNFCC through the holidays as part of the institution’s Christmas and New Year’s program of events. One of the most interesting aspects of this particular piece is its simplicity and clarity, a series of perpendicular lines that act like a “pause” from the holiday “noise.” Here, architectural precision is juxtaposed against the vegetation in the garden and is in harmony with the natural surroundings.

At the opposite end of this discreet approach is the equally powerful “Light Holders” by Dutch multimedia artist Jonas Vorwerk. The three giant rings he has created for the SNFCC’s Great Lawn look like a spaceship when seen from far away or a 1980s disco dance floor at a closer look. With pulsating lights and music, they are an invitation to play and interact.


“I am a visual artist but my background is in music and my interest in electronic music has been continuous. I even have a record company with some friends and worked as a DJ for more than 30 years,” he says.

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The inspiration from the looping and scratching on the decks is evident in the piece, which is an homage to the studios that experimented with analogue magnetic tapes and set the foundations of new music back in the 1950s and 60s. You don’t need to book time for his “studio,” however; it’s free and open, inviting everyone to come in.

The Water Jets were selected to host the third piece, “Halo,” by Venividimultiplex. As the title suggests, it is a ring of light rays of different lengths suspended above the jets. The light ebbs and surges depending on the movement of the people around it and becomes a full “halo” the closer you get.

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“Light Piano 2.0,” a project by Arion de Munck and Mark Ridder, two key members of the Dutch art collective Kleurbleur, is located in the Pine Grove. Theirs is a very special interactive installation that allows the audience to activate an arrangement of light cubes when playing the piano.

The fifth piece, “Submergence,” is in the Dome and is the work of Squidsoup from the United Kingdom. Here, thousands of individual light sources have been placed in such a way as to create a “hybrid environment,” an encounter between the digital and the physical in a natural setting.


The light installations will be on display through January 8 at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (snfcc.org).

This article was previously published at ekathimerini.com.

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