We gathered like moths to an LED flame on Friday night as Aurora lit up the Art District. The acreage filled with installations by local and international artists, merging dance, light, sound and video.
Watching thousands of people strolling Flora Street in search of art is an interesting phenomenon: As prolific as Aurora's content was (87 artists contributed pieces), the night morphed into a documenting experience for its viewers, rather than an exploration of the objects displayed. Lines formed and crowds gathered as new profile pictures were captured, blurring the lines of art and entertainment.
That seemed necessary for this mixed crowd, many I gathered, don't spend much time in that part of town. During a dance performance where a woman in tribal make-up stalked passersby, a woman near me dismissively said "I don't like it: too ethnic." A younger girl ran up behind the dancer and posed ass-to-the-sky while her friend snapped the picture.
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One piece that sat center stage met an equally divisive response. Max Dean's Robotic Chair broke apart, then reassembled over a five minute span inside Hamon Hall. It was one of Aurora's only quiet and focused spaces where you stayed still and watched a process play out. The teenagers in front of me were not having this "chair as art" business. Not even a little bit. They became aggravated, checking their phones and rolling their eyes as the object's pieces located one another. Across the room the opposite occurred: That crowd was transfixed by the performance, cheering on the contraption as though it were human.
What could not be denied was Aurora's ability to bring people together and spark a reaction to art, even a rudimentary one. That's a powerful thing. It'll be interesting to see where it goes from here -- and at what point it will cap off, then pare down. And it was encouraging to see Art District's infrastructure used in such a collaborative fashion, allowing a community weave through its glowing landscape, cell phones in hand.
We sent photographer Danny Hurley to capture the night in photos, then we selected our ten favorites.