Festival TAVA2021 transformed Tartu into a capital of light for four days

Autor: | okt. 30, 2021 | Pressiteated

The Tartu in Light festival of architectural lighting and lighting art, or TAVA2021, brought together almost 40,000 people – 400 lights, 235 lasers and five kilometres of cable were used to light up the city for four days. 


“We wish to thank the public, the city of Tartu and all the supporters who made the festival possible for a third time. During these four days, Tartu once again became the capital of light,” said TAVA2021 main organiser Elo Liiv. “We need light to get through difficult times – art and culture soothe and elevate all of us. I am particularly pleased that the festival was an opportunity to discuss the need for good lighting in the public space as well as offering ideas and the inspiration to achieve this.”

TAVA2021 events were connected by the Emajõgi river. The opening of the festival with Erki Pärnoja’s performance on the Kaarsild bridge brought together an audience of about 3,500 people along the river banks, despite the rainy weather. Audiences visited the Light Trail installations along the Emajõgi on all four evenings, the open-air performances on Town Hall Square, the Light Fair at the Estonian National Museum, and the conference of the LUCI (Lighting Urban Community International) international network of cities on urban lighting. The audience magnet of the festival was the laser performance “Linea Temporis” in St. John’s Church.

The work that most captivated audiences on the Light Trail was Alyona Movko-Mägi’s light installation “Biopoetics” – an optical water play exploring life and the flow of time. Previously known to the broader public as the graphic designer of the dress worn by Elina Nechayeva for her performance of the Estonian entry “La forza” at the Eurovision contest, Movko-Mägi is now a household name, at least in Tartu, thanks to this glorious performance filled with emotion. The installation has already attracted international interest and hopefully will soon help to introduce the work of Estonian lighting artists abroad.

Some of the installations and other works for the Light Trail were made in the IALD (International Association of Lighting Designers) architectural lighting workshops.

“The installations revealed places and monuments in the urban space that had been hidden from casual passers-by or obscured by the dark evenings,” said the workshop curator Marko Kuusik.

Thanks to the workshops, three monuments – the Tartu War of Independence Memorial and the monuments of Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald and Oskar Luts – were provided with a lighting solution. With the help of the participants in her workshop, CJ Brockway (USA) showed how the special features of the riverside can be accentuated with light, and under the guidance of Swedish designers Johan Moritz and Tina Wikström, a lighting solution was created for a riverside viewing platform and recreation area.

“The events of the light festival delighted both Tartu residents and our guests during these dark autumn evenings. The various installations in the urban space have clearly shown how the quality of public space can be improved with lighting, and we will certainly consider creating permanent lighting solutions based on them. Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the success of the light festival,” said deputy mayor of Tartu Raimond Tamm.

The exhibitions created for the festival will remain open. At the Estonian National Museum, “Estonian Lighting Design and Lighting Art 2021”, the first survey exhibition introducing the work of Estonian lighting designers and light artists, will remain open until 10 November. The exhibition provides an overview of key designers and artists, including accomplished artists such as Leonardo Meigas, Tarmo Luisk and Tõnis Vellama, as well as new creators and brands such as Pulo Disain.

The graphic designer of the exhibition is Margus Tamm, and the curator is Maarja Ree.


In Pallas Gallery, “Variation of Continuum”, an exhibition of three artists – Tatsuru Arai (Japan), Maria Pazi (Spain) and Paola Medina Querini (Panama) – curated by the artist Kiwa, focusing on the metaphor of light as a direct activator of association chains as well as stimulations of perception and cognition, will remain open until 20 November.

As part of the festival, for the first time this year, Tartu hosted the conference of the LUCI (Lighting Urban Community International) international network of cities on urban lighting, which brings together the representatives of 70 cities across the globe.

Another first for this year’s festival was the music event TAVA Xperimental, which saw Henri Hütt and sound art duo Algorütmid perform their new work “Influencer”. Spanish performer Exotikdot relied on the intersections between perception and science. The Japanese artist Tatsuru Arai combined classical composition with new technology and presented the essence of the universe through perceptual experiences.

The next festival will take place in early October 2024.