|Project Name||Mångata, northern lights and setting sun||Posted in||Design, Installation, Exhibition||Location||
|Design Studio||Note Design Studio||Client||Nordiska Museet||Completed||2016|
While there are times of the year when the sun never completely sets, there are also days when there are only a few hours of sunlight, or when it is dark around the clock. The Nordic region has a special relationship with light: There is an expression that claims the mark of a true Norwegian is feeling guilty for staying inside when it is sunny outside. From the absence of sunlight to its continued or continuous presence, and with the transcendent experience that are the Northern Lights in between, this is a climatic and, indeed, cultural condition that very few people can completely appreciate. And this is exactly why the “Nordic Light” exhibit at the Nordisca Museet, Stockholm’s Nordic Museum, is the most qualified introduction to it.
The museum itself is an imposing work of architectural art. Its banquet hall, where the Nordic Light exhibit is hosted, is dominated by high arches and pillars that fill the 126 metre long, 15 metre wide and 24 metre high space with a gothic feel that directly speaks to the sense of reverence towards the sunlight, which the exhibition stresses. In the absence of sunlight, there is the moon. And in the absence of the moon, there is invention. From candles to lamps, to lightbulbs –all the ways that people have tried to bring light into their lives are narrated through an installation designed by Note.
The installation takes its cues from the sun and the moon, two discs that provide the graphical focal points in each end of the museum’s hall: The sun lights up a cloud bank in the north hall and the moon, with a diameter of 5 meters, is reflected in the “waters” of the south hall. This is where the exhibition recreates the “Mångata”, the unique, untranslatable word for the path of shining light that the moon projects on the water, represented by the museum by a wall that zigzags for 50 meters, defining the spaces that host the evolution of electrical lights and the aesthetic trends they followed through time.
Light is also presented in the cultural context of traditions like Nowruz (“New Day”), Halloween, and Midsummer; and, of course, in the wonder of the aurora borealis. The “Skymningsdal” – sunset valley – at the north end of the hall is a construction made up of 50 meters of semi-transparent fabric in the same shape as the Mångata wall, hanging by the hall’s ceiling and tinted by beams of light, that project the colors of the Northern Lights over it every twenty minutes. So if you’re not lucky enough to catch the real thing while you are there, this is probably your next best choice for a “light” walk.