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Istanbul The Lights’ is the inaugural outdoor light festival providing the city with a new reason to celebrate at the end of what has been a challenging year for many.

For the month of December until early next year, spectacular art installations will be placed around the city centre, set to light it up as part of Contemporary Istanbul Foundation’s mission to bring the community together safely, in a setting where social distancing can still be observed while creating moments of joy this festive season.

A collection of more than 50 art installations make up the festival and include a range of sculptures and works from over 35 talented artists based both locally and abroad, including Refik Anadol, Güvenç Özel, Ouchhh, and Memo Akten. The light displays form a circuit around the cultural capital with installations in Taksim Square, Macka Park, Besiktas Square, and Istanbul International Airport.

Co-curators of Istanbul The Lights, Esra Özkan and Ayça Okay, set out to use the festival to create a dialogue between art and society that delights the city in unexpected ways. The festival sees the takeover of subway and city screens, shopping mall screens and public spaces.

’We wanted to take the everyday places that locals know, and visitors frequent to create something extraordinary, where they might not be suspecting it – to fill their daily lives with art and light,’ say Özkan and Okay.

Art collective ‘Under1Min’ are creators of the star attraction with their behemoth circular structure made of LED screens, called ‘The Borders’, aptly situated at the Istanbul Airport. Blurring the boundaries between art and technology, Augmented Istanbul is also a key project – a collection of AR based sculptures, created by 17 leading artists on a mission to build a bridge between technology, sculpture, and painting.

Contemporary Istanbul Foundation Founder, Ali Gureli, says: ‘We are so pleased that the CIF is able to forge a new annual event for all to experience safely, while supporting the arts at this time. We hope that this festival gives the people of Istanbul another reason to celebrate this New Year.

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