Luna Fete 2016
New Orleans, LA
It is 8:14 PM and I am currently approaching Lafayette Square for the 3rd Annual LUNA Fête Art Walk. It is opening night. Outside, the consummate cool air, chaperoned by an overcast of clouds, fabricates a fantastic New Orleans night on a Wednesday in December. It isn’t long before I walk into a crowd, surrounded by families, artists, and the well-to-dos of the city sharing a pleasant time and celebrating how art transforms communities through innovation, technology, and creativity.
I am instantly drawn towards the singular lasers, each a different color, creating a rainbow of light that stretches over Lafayette Square into the foreseeable distance. The installation, Global Rainbow, is made possible by the Berlin-based American artist Yvette Mattern. Her idea was inspired after seeing an unusual rainbow at the ever-transcendental Walden Pond in Massachusetts.
Walking around, the handful of vendors are the usual suspects from local art markets. Each tent is illuminated by Christmas lights with yellow and white bulbs. ‘Tis the season. I’m a little disappointed to find that the music is not live. Instead, there is a music player airing blues with huge, loud, crisp speakers – the standard for anyone that frequently attends school fairs in Metairie. For as much music there is to find in New Orleans, I’m sure the Arts Council could have found an eclectic and tasteful group of musicians to provide.
I sit down on the curb on St. Charles in front of Gallier Hall, waiting for the main event, a projection created by France-based La Maison Production, which runs every hour on the hour. An older man with a white beard and a Santa hat joins me among a crowd of friends, family, hipsters, and college kids. Even the petty cabs stop and park to watch, maybe hoping to score one more costumer before the night is over. The projected timer, counting down to the next viewing, stops and creates a moment of suspense as the host comes on, over the speakers, explaining the reason for this event and thanks all of its sponsors two minutes ahead.
The show starts with a swamp and a white heron flying throughout. Cars traveling down St. Charles are distracted by the buzz and local cyclists make this an opportunity to show off their new tricks. A streetcar passes by, reminding us of New Orleans and its rich heritage and culture. I focus on the projection again. Leaves fall from the trees without our iconic Spanish moss and plant the seeds for new life to grow to be washed away by a surge of water. Buildings are built and geometric shapes start to fall, complementing the columns outside Gallier Hall, a pleasant touch which informs us that this presentation was specifically made for this location. Even the creole lanterns are eventually washed away by the water, always coming back to erase whatever the exhibition choose to erect and pays respect to our authoritative nature. The animation is alive with music and French banner is displayed, sporting the New Orleans Crest. The show ends with an assortment of neon lights and roar of applause.
I return to the Global Rainbow, mesmerized by its elegance and charge. I start to leave, jotting this down in a notebook. A friend of mine is flying into the Louis Armstrong International Airport at this time and it is nothing short of inspirational to hear that she, too, can see the New Orleans skyline, submerged in a rainbow of color and dazzle while we’re all below, commemorating with her. It is clear as their presence that the Arts Council of New Orleans intends to make LUNA Fête an iconic event for New Orleans by connecting residents and visitors alike through communication, echoing hope and peace, and I cannot wait to see what they display next year.
Author/Writer: G. Manson
Music + Art + Culture