The season of holiday lights is upon us, and while we wait all year to see light displays both in the U.S. and abroad, they’re typically thought of as scenic and festive, rather than as artistically significant design feats. But an Italian light installation in Rimini (a northern coastal town on the Adriatic Sea in Emilia-Romagna) proves that December light installations can spread holiday joy and simultaneously be part of the creative zeitgeist. The new light installation, “208,” which is set directly on the canal that runs through the center of Rimini, debuted on December 6, 2020.
The project was designed by Gio Tirotto and curated by Maria Cristina Didero and consists of 208 buoys that illuminate as the sky darkens. The installation in Rimini’s Piazza d’Acqua runs along the central canal under the gorgeous Ponte di Tiberio, offering a festive expression of modern design in the heart of the city. Didero and Tirotto honed in on the idea of 208—with 208 buoys in the exhibit—as a way to represent the 208 countries around the globe. They wanted this installation to offer a sense of unity, in that each of the world’s 208 countries have gone through challenges together this year. Didero and Tirotto see the floating installation as a symbol of togetherness and resilience, and in executing the public art project hoped to cultivate a sense of unity. Tirotto’s work is known for making a statement—whether a political statement, or a humorous or ethical one—using his art as a deliberate, multipurpose vessel—and this activation is no exception.
The buoys actually take in sunlight during the day, which allows them to give off light when night falls, which Didero and Tirotto hope provides reassurance to those passing by, curating a broader sense of hope. The exhibition was commissioned by the Rimini Department of Culture in partnership with Laboratorio Aperto, a creative studio based in Modena. It will stay up through January 2021, illuminating Rimini and spreading inspiration around the world.