Monday, September 21, 2009

La Noche en Blanco '09, Madrid

Last Saturday night, 19th September 2009, Madrid celebrated the annual event 'La Noche en Blanco' (or 'The Night in White') marking the end of summer and the start of autumn. The theme this year - El Regalo (The Gift) - represents the gesture of artistic creation and artists' donation to the rest of society.

More than a hundred activities such as art, poetry, music, dance, drama & photography were lined up for the night, with traffic diverted off some of the major roads in the city center. The celebration involved various artistic expressions and installations, free entrances to museums & theatres, free movie screenings, and both indoor & outdoor performances happening all over central Madrid.

As I could only be at one place at a time, I chose to hang around Gran Vía after dinner (actually wallked the whole stretch from Banco de España down to Plaza de España). Being able to walk freely on possibly the busiest road in Madrid was a rare opportunity. It was both a nice yet strange feeling, as the public were treated to a visual art display called 'Way of Light'. The usual street lamps were turned off so we could appreciate the new lighting system, designed especially for this occasion by Óscar Vázquez, splashing coloured lights on the façade of the famous buildings along Gran Vía. It allowed the public to look at Gran Vía, quite literally, in a different light.

However personally, I felt that this year was a little quiet (the budget for this year was reportedly, to have gone down by about 21% compared to 2008). At some point everyone looked like they were wandering around in the night like lost souls or zombies in MJ's 'Thriller' video (ok fine, not as ghastly).

Overall, I think it was still a nice experience and I applaud the efforts of the organisers to pull off this gigantic city-wide art & culture movement, which I am sure benefitted many people of Madrid.

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