The Artistic Director of Luminato, JÖrn Weisbrodt, gives us an insider’s perspectives on this year's event.
The annual Toronto arts festival Luminato is a mix of musical performances, visual arts, literary talks and dance programs. Since its 2007 debut, Luminato has grown in size, with more than 66 works of art having been comissioned, featuring 7,500 artists from 40 countries. This year, the Apocalypsis mega-production with 1,000 performers is set to be a key event. Real Style caught up with Jörn Weisbrodt, artistic director of Luminato to get his take on this year's event.
REAL STYLE: What are you most excited about for Luminato 2015?
Jörn Weisbrodt: We started working on R. Murray Schafer’s Apocalypsis over three years ago. It is a staged oratorio about the destruction of the universe and the possibility of a new vision which requires 1000 performers and will be staged at the Sony Centre from June 26 to 28. It is sure to be an epic experience, and one that I believe Toronto has never seen on stage before. It might even be the largest musical and theatrical show ever performed on an indoor stage in Canada. It is these kind of events that I think Luminato Festival is particularly good at creating, something that is so out of the ordinary. I am also excited that Luminato is creating the first cultural use in the Hearn Generating Station that will be open to the public. Unsound Toronto (from June 19 to 20) is a two-day festival within the Luminato Festival featuring electronic and experimental music that brings together sound, visuals, scent and light and will truly bring some energy back to this powerplant that was taken off the grid in the ‘80s.
RS: What goes into the selection process for the art/performances you bring to Luminato?
JW: To me, Luminato Festival should be doing what no one else is doing in this city. We are about creating adventurous art and ideas in adventurous places. Doing a dance and pop music spectacle (Contemporary Color, June 22 to 23) at the Air Canada Centre; a live, interactive film shot in the streets of Toronto and streamed to viewers across the country (My One Demand, June 25 to 27); and in past years, a performance piece at the McMichael Gallery grounds; a show in someone’s garage in Vaughan; at the Hearn Generating Station; in public parks in Toronto; and more. To me, that is what the DNA of Luminato Festival is all about. I want to change people’s hearts and minds through art. I look for these kind of transformational projects that relate to Toronto and to Torontonians, that will resonate with them but also move them to another place mentally. To me, it is less about understanding art but experiencing it, then understanding can come much later. I want to seduce people to see the world differently and to see something different. It is not about an avant-garde idea or anything like that. It is about opening new spaces of the mind and soul.
RS: How do you feel the festival differs from other cultural events in Canada?
JW: We are the only multi-arts festival of this scale in Canada. There is no festival that so joyously mixes all the art forms. I believe a great cultural nation is defined by two things: firstly, can it produce and support great artists, and secondly (and almost more importantly) can it also attract great artists from outside to live and work there. I think Luminato Festival is doing both. We are supporting some of Canada’s great artists – some of them we bring home, like Terence Koh, Tim Hecker or Joni Mitchell – but we also attract great artists from overseas and outside Canada to come and work here, to create, to give to the community, like David Byrne, Meg Stuart, Lemi Ponifasio, Matthew Barney, Mariano Pensotti and so many more.
RS: Where do you see the festival in five years?
JW: In five years, I would like Luminato Festival to be as indispensable to the cultural fabric of this city as TIFF is, or MoMA is to New York. I would like it to explore more cultural territory and more new venues, show Torontonians more what their city really is. In my dreams in five years, the Hearn Generating Station would be the largest generator for culture in the world with multiple exhibition spaces, experimental multi-functional theatrical spaces, where culture and the arts and disciplines are packed horizontally and vertically.