On entering the church of San Samuele located in the immediate vicinity of the Palazzo Grassi, the observer is astonished to perceive two architectural elements which seem to be apparitions at first: Two transparent shimmering glass columns rise from a white, ocean-like, but geometrically shaped field (10 x 4 m) of thousands of folded papers, up to 4,32 meters in height. Their iridescent colours are fascinating. They are reminiscent of a rainbow and the moment when this fleeting, intangible phenomenon emerges. The soft paper field intensifies the impression of lightness, yet seems to protect the transparent pillars, highlighting their special impression. With its purity and fragility, the paper evokes subtlety and inspires the spectator to pay even more attention to the fragile beauty of the work. The white ocean of paper acts like a magnetic field, capturing the light inside the space, giving it a body and transforming it into shadows by its thousands of folds. Our attention is focused on the special light phenomenon that comes through the dichroic glass. That phenomenon is an invitation to observe the environment more closely from different perspectives and under different lighting conditions to discover how colours and light are always changing through the dichroic glass.
The light plays both on the structure of the columns as well as on the white paper field and finally reflecting into the room. Where the light is reflected in white, a bluish nuance suddenly shimmers and, viewed from a different perspective, a reddish colour actually appears. This creates an unexpected interplay between reality and appearance, between what we perceive and what may be real. Involuntarily, the image of Venice appears as a memory. The city of glass and the iridescent reflections of water, as the poet Rainer Maria Rilke describes it: »… the city, which time and again, where a glimmer / of heaven meets a feeling of tide / forms without ever being…«But with the light, its transience, its changing angle of incidence throughout the day and its colourful transformation, another dimension seems to flow into the work: ›Time‹.
These fleeting phenomena do not convey an absolute message. Rather, they reflect themselves in the viewer and trigger reflections: thoughts and considerations that arise from one’s own perception and experience, from one’s own unique perspective and thus can only be personal in nature. Due to this, the work opens up differently to each viewer. It refers to the subjectivity of one’s own vision, to the subjectivity of what the individual perceives and thinks. It suggests a multifaceted, ever-changing, possible picture of reality beyond one’s own point of view and offers various conceivable ways to this insight. Thus, the title »enlightenment« does not only point to the concrete interplay between the light and its reflections in the installation itself and in a figurative sense to the prophet San Samuele (the enlightened one), but also extends to philosophical sense: the title and with it, the work reveal an snap-shot of the thought process, the moment between perception and knowledge that shapes and influences our image of the world.
The dichroic glass that Lore Bert uses for her installation comes from her hometown Mainz. In this way, the artist combines the tradition of glass production in Venice, her second home, in which no dichroic glass is still produced, with her roots in Mainz. The word ›dichroic‹ comes from the Greek ›dichroos‹ and means bicolour. It describes glass that changes its colour depending on the sunlight, viewing angle and background. During production, several thin layers are applied to the glass. This can be done employing the sol-gel technique, in which the glass is immersed in liquids containing organometallic compounds and metal oxides. In a thermal process, the metal-alcoholic coating solutions used are converted into firmly adhering metal oxide layers at 480 °C. Multiple optical interference layers filter the light into specific wavelengths and colours, creating a rainbow effect. Depending on the change in the viewing angle, the glass changes colour.