Out and about since 2008, the anonymous collective Luzinterruptus have made it their mission to conquer and illuminate urban space with visual surprises that range from tiny flames in trees, set against the backdrop of a snowy Madrid, to glowing peppers in the nocturnal city.

"Bicycle seeking Owners"
“Bicycle seeking Owners”

Yet whether complex festival installation or spontaneous urban intervention: Luzinterruptus do not aim to disturb or disrupt, but pursue an inclusive approach; one that invites friends and passers-by alike to approach, enjoy, and even participate in the art on display. A stance supported by their chosen medium: “Working with light allows us to create interventions without overtaking public space or bothering those who usually use this space, including other artists.” In this spirit, they also like to hand out small presents, including parts of the installation on display, along with their political message. Taken together, this makes their works ephemeral by nature: Quickly assembled and disassembled, Luzinterruptus installations (and bulbs) have a short life span, are shared with the crowd, and – most importantly – do not require an official permit like ‘regular’ political protests.

“Most of our installations intend to highlight urban issues neglected by both the public and the city’s officials,” they state. And with the collective’s firm focus on the problematic and ongoing commercialization and privatization of public space, one of Luzinterruptus’ most recent interventions, Anti-Franchise Paper Hearts, aimed to highlight the steady displacement of small family shops by big name franchises. The resulting tiny paper hearts were not only fitted with small light bulbs, but also magnets that triggers shop door alarms. Spreading the word – and hearts – to people on the street to show solidarity with the remaining mom-and-pop stores, the artists did warn recipients to keep the hearts away from the franchises … but people would walk in anyway – and gentle mayhem ensured.

Meanwhile, the collective’s Consumerist Christmas Tree, designed to draw attention to the drawbacks of seasonal shopping sprees and the overuse of plastic packaging, transformed plastic bags donated by residents into a giant glowing Christmas tree. A novel take on recycling – and a familiar source of materials for Luzinterruptus. Whenever possible, the artists like to incorporate crowd donations, returned or reused after each project.

For their biggest splash to date, however, the Madrid group had to switch hemispheres: In July 2012, their Literature Versus Traffic in Melbourne flooded the Australian metropolis’ streets with lit-up books in order to show just how much space traffic takes from the city – and how Melbourne would benefit if it gave more room and visibility to literature and the written word.

Generally speaking, however, the group does not aim for full-on change, but prefers to bring people together and encourage discussion: something their light and photo installations achieve to perfection. So, while most of their projects are planned behind closed doors, Luzinterruptus’ quiet impact is all the more public – and potentially delightful.

Text: Alice Fritze
All the photos, incl. the header image: Luzinterruptus/ Gustavo Sanabria