Light City Features Installation from Israeli Artists

Israeli architects and artists Merav Eitan and Gaston Zahr installation “House of Cards” is featured in Baltimore’s Light City. (Provided)

This year’s Light City Baltimore, the second year of the highly successful light festival, features an installation from Israeli artists among the 23 total chosen out of around 150 applications.

“House of Cards” is the installation from Merav Eitan and Gaston Zahr, architects and artists whose office, OGE Group, is based in Haifa. It looks quite literally like a giant house of cards, where each card is lit up.

The idea did indeed come from the children’s game of carefully stacking cards, Eitan said, and that is almost exactly how it is set up — albeit with some more effort that regular playing cards would require.

The other unique thing about the installation is the artwork featured on the cards. On the backs of the cards and the face cards is a combination of work from local artists and others from around the world.

“You see artists who aren’t necessarily communicating with each other, but they come together as one,” Eitan said about “House of Cards.”

The “House of Cards” installation has traveled the world already, the artwork on the cards changing from place to place. It first appeared at the Lights in Jerusalem Festival and has since gone on to appear in Amsterdam, Milan and Berlin, among other cities.

“It is interesting to us to always connect with the local community and [have the project] more belonging to the place, not for us,” Eitan said.

Kathy Hornig, festival director for the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts who is overseeing Light City, said installations were chosen by an independent jury of art professionals. She loves them all, she added, but did cite “House of Cards” as one she is particularly excited about.

“Our planning mantra has become the unofficial theme: Bigger, brighter, bolder,” she said. “If you came last year, you’re going to love it this year.”

Light City debuted last year, lightening up Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. It attracted more than 400,000 people, including more than 175,000 from outside the Baltimore area, and produced nearly $20 million in direct impact for local businesses, according to a report from BOPA.

The free festival will be open through April 8 this year and will include all local food and beverage vendors, along with free concerts and performances throughout. It’s also very family friendly, Hornig said, and there’s a free app for those who want ease of navigating. The paid, ticketed part of the festival is the conferences, where speakers come to address a number of major topics and themes important to Baltimore and beyond. There are still tickets available, Hornig added.

“My goal — and I’m so passionate about working on festivals and Light City — is that festivals are a way for our city to come together and celebrate what’s great about this city,” Hornig said. “That’s not to say we don’t have problems, but this is a way for people to put aside differences for a while.”

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