a year ago

Literature vs. Traffic: A novel battle of magicians against machines

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In Melbourne, it typically rains from June through August. During those months, the morning temperature is the lowest, and it rises somewhat throughout the night. Winter feels like cool breezes with sporadic mist and snowflakes. More likely, a cold winter that comes with a downpour. 

However, the winter of 2012 provided more than just rain; it also brought 'Light in Winter' when it arrived. 'Light in Winter' is an annual exhibition. That year, the sixth edition of the exhibition was held in Australia.

Although 'Light in Winter' has been celebrated before, its prominence has grown exponentially in 2012. Because Australia named that year the Year of Reading. As a result, the theme of Light in Winter that year was definitely- 'To Read and Let Read.' The entire event is held to bid farewell to the dark night of winter and fill it with the warmth of light. 

As 'Vidya Sarvasya Bhushanam' -- knowledge enhances the beauty of everyone and everything -- is true. So to dispel the darkness of the mind, Light in Winter that year was planned with two themes in mind.  

This festival was amazing in all of its aspects. But the question may arise in your mind, why is the event of 2012 being highlighted so much? The reason for this is Luzinteraptus! The day's main topic.

Wizards from Spain 

Luzinteraptus is a Spanish collective. Artists feel comfortable working under this name. Artists feel at ease working under this pseudonym. When asked in an interview what Luzinteraptus meant, they said, "Light interrupted, Light subdued." Without a doubt, they invented the significance of this term. In fact, such a word does not exist in the dictionary. However, it is no crime for a creative collective to define itself. 

Luzinteraptus' preference for "light" as an artistic medium also explains their reliance on light. This particular group of artists uses light as the raw material and the night as the canvas for all their artworks. 

Consequently, it is clear that they created various natural-looking structures in the environment using light and shadow.  

This collective started its journey in 2008. They made citizens think by shedding light on various issues that went unnoticed in Madrid, Spain. 

While addressing concerns is the primary goal of their artworks, not every piece is completely focused solely on issues. Sometimes they add creative flair to an object lying on the street or carelessly discarded by a passerby, which may not have much worth in the eyes of the average person. The enchanting touch of Luzinteraptus gives it new significance.

The content of their exhibition is such that it can easily amaze people. As was the case at the 'Light in Winter' festival in 2012. 

Luzintaraptus was called upon to ferry light through the thick winter fog. Melburnians were enthralled, their eyes wide open. Immersed in rows of books. 

There is no wagon, no horse, only silence, peace, quiet! With the book-reading year as its central theme, the Spanish team decided to re-create their much-discussed and acclaimed book installation, which debuted in New York. They also gave the piece a creative title: Literature vs Traffic. 

The defeat of Traffic, at last! 

Literature vs Traffic! In other words, literature will fight against all the cars and machines that rule the road and will occupy the highway. As is the idea, so is the implementation. 

The festival was in June, so the team's 80-90 volunteers started preparing months in advance. The installation required a lot of books. Universities-local libraries-regular individuals all came forward. Volunteers worked day and night to collect books. 

Ten days before the exhibition's opening, some 10,000 books were peppered with LED lights like pepper lamps. The installation was placed in Melbourne's Stark Federation Square. 

Pedestrians were surprised to see how thousands of books dominate their daily walking path, but they are not bothered by it at all. 

The city, disturbed by mechanical noises, breathed a sigh of relief that day. When the night fell, the light gleamed on the book's pages. Thousands of books brightened the streets, and traffic through them bowed to literature.

As the night progressed, the exhibition space was opened to the general public. They could pick up books from the streets for free. As a bright gift! And thus, the next day, the road was cleared without anyone stepping on it.

 What they think they do

What is the significance of this thought? In response to such inquiries, the Spanish team posted the following on their official website:

"We want literature to take over the streets and conquer public spaces, freely offering those passersby a traffic-free place which, for some hours, will succumb to the humble power of the written word."

This instalment of Luzinteraptus is undoubtedly a boon for bookworms, which started in 2010. The Literature vs. Traffic installation was later exhibited in Toronto in 2016 and in Michigan in 2018. Although it was put on hold for a few years owing to the Covid situation, we saw Luzinterruptus again during the International Literature Festival Utrecht - ILFUA in the Netherlands in September last year. 

Although the show was only for one day, they collected books for about three months. The team utilised almost 11,000 books to create a fountain of light across the street.

Madrid To Khulna

The fascinating part is that a donation campaign inspired by this establishment was held on a modest scale in Khulna, Bangladesh, in 2021 by Facebook groups- Book Bank and Entertainment All In One. 

Khulna Photo by: Rafiz Siddiquee

The event was titled - Book Road Khulna. The response of passersby was also great in this event; not only they took books, but many also donated books. 

But here, first, online registration was required. The number of books that could be taken was capped at 5, although anybody may contribute an infinite number of books. 

At the occasion, 5,000 books of different genres, including textbooks, novels, short story collections, and poetry collections, were on exhibit, all of which were collected through donations. Later, a similar event was organised in the capital also.

Here's where Luzinteraptus steps in; they're spreading a positive revolution all the way throughout the globe.

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