Brilliant Start To Blue Port Hamburg: A Port Becomes a Stage
It all began for Hamburg in 2006, when the FIFA World Cup took place in Germany. Light artist Michael Batz created “Blue Goals” – goal posts illuminated in blue, which public buildings, companies, and individuals used to decorate their roofs and show off their excitement about having the World Cup in their country. Hamburg then turned blue again in 2008, this time with the Blue Port Hamburg installation. This year, Michael Batz is bathing the port in blue light for the sixth time.
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A masterpiece in artistry and logistics
The preparations took an entire year, and the installation spans 8.5 kilometres along both sides of the Elbe. 50 kilometres of cable were laid down, and over 20,000 blue light elements were attached to buildings, industrial plants and ships within the Port of Hamburg. The highest point is the Elbphilharmonie, the new concert hall and landmark of the city, the roof of which now glows in blue light. Also involved in the installation are the “Speicherstadt and Kontorhausviertel” districts, which have been awarded UNESCO world heritage status 2015.
The installation does more than just light up the city with special effects, however. According to Batz, the installation should enable people to see their city in a new light and tell Hamburg’s urban story. “I want to use light to describe the fundamental structural change the port has seen – a port shaped by maritime activities, logistics and industry, which is increasingly developing into a multifaceted urban space with residential districts and culture.”
Hamburg turns blue for ten days
The official light-up ceremony of Blue Port Hamburg took place on Friday evening last week. The sensory experience will be beguiling both locals and visitors from all over the world until 10 September. The illuminated port will then take centre stage from 8 to 10 September, when the Hamburg Cruise Days are on. This event is the largest cruise festival in the world, with eleven major cruise liners and more than half a million visitors to the Port of Hamburg expected to attend.
Michael Batz has a particular way of describing the fascination that abounds: “The port – a place where everything that appears only has value once it disappears again. Light installations, which in their very nature are temporary, belong to this category. They glow and shine the brightest once the light has gone out. As fugitive reflectors of the world and of life in general, they mirror their darkest melancholy. And their deepest longing.”
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