Daan Roosegaarde’s WATERLICHT Comes to Columbia

This three-night art installation, which includes a discussion with the artist, is part of the University’s Year of Water.

Eve Glasberg
October 01, 2019

A centerpiece of Columbia’s Year of Water programming is WATERLICHT, a site-wide, large-scale light installation by Dutch artist and innovator Daan Roosegaarde. Propelled by LED lights and lenses, WATERLICHT illuminates the power and poetry of water, while bringing awareness to both the overabundance and scarcity of Earth’s most precious resource.

Public viewing of this installation is scheduled from 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. on October 22, 23 and 24 at the plaza in front of the Lenfest Center for the Arts at 615 West 129th St. The typical viewing experience is about 30 minutes. Registration is required and opens on October 1.

"WATERLICHT is about showing the power of living with water,” Roosegaarde said. “It is an honor to work with Columbia to exhibit WATERLICHT, and connect with a new generation that plays a central role in changing the climate.”

Roosegaarde’s work explores relations among people, technology and space. He is best known for fabricating future landscapes. His mantra “Schoonheid” is a Dutch word that has two meanings: “beauty” and “to clean,” as in clean air, clean energy and clean water. For Roosegaarde, “Schoonheid” is a fundamental condition of life.

He founded Studio Roosegaarde in 2007, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, where he works with a team of designers and engineers to improve daily living in urban environments. Studio Roosegarde has created public space commissions for such cities as Rotterdam, Beijing, Paris, Toronto and Stockholm. The Studio also initiates its own projects to research social innovations, gives lectures and has a pop-up studio in Shanghai.

Roosegaarde, who has won numerous innovation and design awards, has exhibited at the Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam; Design Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum and Tate Modern in London; Mori Art Museum in Tokyo; and Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Paris. He has also been featured on  Google Zeitgeist, a series of intimate gatherings of global thinkers and leaders, sponsored by the technology company.  

Roosegaarde will discuss WATERLICHT and other works of his—including the Smog Free Project, a large outdoor air purifier that turns smog into jewelry, and Smart Highway, an interactive road that glows at night—with Carol Becker, Dean of the School of the Arts, on October 23 at 5 p.m. at The Forum at 125th St. and Broadway. His first monograph, which has an introduction by Becker, will be available for purchase. (To attend this discussion, click here.)