Next weekend, Downtown Binghamton will once again become a playground for artists worldwide to showcase their talents through stories and creativity.
This year the LUMA lineup includes artists from Ukraine, Southeast Asia, Barcelona, Madrid, Budapest, Bucharest and, of course, Binghamton. From Friday, Sept. 9 through Saturday, Sept. 10, 8:30 p.m. to 12:15 p.m., the sidewalk will be brimming with food trucks and vendors, bringing life to the Binghamton community.
Joshua Bernard, co-founder and operations director of LUMA, said sharing new artwork is what LUMA is all about.
“I think the most exciting thing we can hope for is that folks come away with a slightly different sense of what art can be,” Bernard said. “That they connect with a different kind of artwork they’ve never connected with before and they feel something.”
At LUMA, organizers also aim to have as much input from the community as possible. To make the festival more accessible, tickets are free for everyone who attends, and this year LUMA is using its mapping technology to offer experiences to the Binghamton youth. Architects, engineers and members of the LUMA team created 2D versions of the buildings to give students under 13 years old the chance to enter still drawings on materials the LUMA team has provided.
Next weekend the works of these students and acclaimed artists will be projected over numerous buildings, including 84 Court St., 79 Collier St. and 65 Hawley St. You can also spend $8.50 on an extra ticket to see the special feature — an immersive art performance created by Playmodes, an artistic team from Barcelona. Their piece “Horizons” will be shown in the State Street Parking Ramp, where light and composition will play together. This will be the second time the LUMA festival has included a parking ramp in its festival lineup.
“Part of the fun of LUMA is using the Binghamton landscape, and anytime you’re going to do an immersive arts festival like this you’re going to use whatever assets you have,” Bernard said.
Architecture is a huge asset to the artists, and using it can enhance and collaborate with the stories the artists are telling.
For Julia Shamsheieva — an artist from Odesa, Ukraine — the building, city, region and country are all taken into consideration before and during the creation of each of her pieces. She first heard of LUMA through her artistic team, Anima Lux, and decided the festival was a place where she could create something meaningful and beautiful. She was interested right from the start, as she wanted to show her thanks and appreciation to the American people for supporting Ukraine.
Her piece “4U” has many meanings and audiences — for the American people, for Ukraine and its citizens, for people, not numbers. Working in an active combat zone with airstrikes hitting Odesa this past February, she believes it is important to think not only of the number of casualties, bombings and money spent on weapons but also how the people, animals, land and food are affected. Her usual artistic style — bright, bubbly and playful — has remained the same.
“I want people to feel something, to have a smile on their face … Each project is my child and I put all my heart for it, my soul for it, it reflects my inner role,” Shamsheieva said.
She wants the brightness in her piece to reach the children in Binghamton who see LUMA, to help people in pain.
“Even our military men that are in horrible situations, they also try to record something fun for everyone,” Shamsheieva said. “It is really important among all this darkness, you can become crazy I think, and Ukrainian humor helps a lot I think to survive.”
Her piece comprises these ideas and stands for the four “U’s” — Unity, Unique, Unbelievable and Undaunted. She describes in her piece the spirit of her people, united across Ukraine despite their different nationalities and languages.
She speaks of hope, and brought a new element into her piece with a lyrical song to show hope alongside the darkness.
“The words in this [lyrical] song are also very sensitive,” Shamsheieva said. “She’s singing about heart, about [the] pain of everything. It is a bit of a sad song of course, and it is very unusual for me to work with this style of music.”
She is working with music that tells of Ukraine’s pain and suffering. The companion music to her piece was created by Ukrainian artists Yuri “Saymory” Vodolazhskyi and Maria Kebu, which Shamsheieva described as electronic and folksy. The hauntingly beautiful voice of Kebu sings of sorrow, bittersweet pain and the soul’s distortion as her heart chooses not to cry, but to laugh.
Shamsheieva is working to combine her heart and her usual playfulness to tell her story of a strong united Ukraine, supported by the American people.
“Every day you’re shocked you think this is the most horrible thing, but no,” Shamsheieva said. “There were so many bombs and missiles around my house, and I think how many months, how many festivals we could create with this money. How many people could we help and make really good things with this money and now we need to spend our money for weapons.”
She is saddened by the horrors that happen, and how money is spent on war instead of helping agriculture, the sick and children. However, despite all this horror she still has hope.
“If we can create a useful organization that can stop everything without a weapon, maybe it is about the evolution of humanity, but I really hope that we will find this consciousness, I don’t know, maybe if we have more artists,” Shamsheieva said.
Her way is through her own art. The bright and bubbly style is meant to keep humor and warmth in people’s hearts.
LUMA is a start to bringing art to the forefront of the Binghamton community, supporting local vendors and drawing in tourists. It helps to inspire creativity, kindness and, hopefully, a new consciousness in people. It is a chance to learn about stories and communities across the globe. To see Shamsheieva’s piece how it was meant to be told, and the work each artist is putting forth, come see LUMA in person this weekend.