By Paul Tarricone
Horrific events have often sparked a lighting response. The tragedy of September 11 spawned the “Tribute in Light” and later the 9/11 Memorial in lower Manhattan. The site of the Ambassador Hotel, where Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968, was later transformed into RFK Inspiration Park; it features an illuminated wall displaying an excerpt from a Kennedy speech on social justice. At North Carolina A&T State University, a wall sprayed with bullets in 1969 is a cornerstone of a monument that commemorates the civil rights struggle of that decade. Whether it took years or decades, the medium of light became a source of healing, tribute or inspiration.
Now, in heartbreaking fashion, we see the opposite effect played out on our TV screens.
I write this “Editor’s Note” in the midst of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine where along with the human suffering, the beauty of design has also been willfully destroyed. I refer to Freedom Square in Mariupol. The public square received an IES Illumination Award of Excellence in August 2021. I admit at that time, the project didn’t leave a lasting impression on me beyond its aesthetic and technical achievement. The historical implications and the connection between “Freedom” and “Ukraine” bounced off me in the flurry of activity that goes into creating the Awards issue of LD+A.
Then we learned in early March that Freedom Square was a target of Russian missiles. I went back to the August 2021 issue to read the project write-up and view the photos. The first line of the write-up provided the context I should have noticed last year: “National pride is a point of emphasis in Ukraine.” The laser show in the square celebrated each of Ukraine’s 25 regions. The images show tourists and locals enjoying the display, one with cell phone in hand capturing it all. Freedom Square—itself a source of inspiration—has fallen victim to tragic events. Let Freedom Square ring again.
LightFair’s owners, International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD), Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) and International Market Centers (IMC) invite the lighting industry to join them in responding to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine through donations to UNICEF USA. Donations to www.unicefusa.org/crisis-ukraine, are 100% tax deductible.