Spotlight on Bordeaux
- 28 March 2022
Bordeaux is the sixth biggest city in France, with an inner city population of around 250,000. The locals are known as... Read More
Former submarine base transformed into extraordinary galleries
Hidden in a World War II submarine base of 3,000 square metres are magical caverns containing moving colours, shapes, light and music – famous artworks by the likes of Klimt, Klee, Monet and Renoir in digital form. It’s a brilliant use of a utilitarian space, now transformed into an inspirational and creative series of galleries. Les Bassin de Lumières, run by Culturespace, is the world’s largest digital arts centre.
It’s a spectacularly immersive experience, with a series of moving artworks projected onto four 110 metre long by 12 metre high chambers; reflected in the still black water, accompanied by stirring music. As well as familiar artworks, there is a section dedicated to contemporary art.
Built in 1941 by the Germans, as part of their occupation of Bordeaux, construction of the submarine base took 19 months and 6,500 workers – many of whom were prisoners of war. The total amount of concrete in the project was 60,000 square metres.
It housed the German and Italian submarine fleet until it was abandoned on 26 August, 1944. It was then periodically used for festivals and as a film set, however, most of the time the building sat empty.
Transformed into an innovative arts centre with a grant of €10,000,000, Les Bassins de Lumière opened on 17 April, 2020. Culturespace had already set up Atelier de Lumière, a digital art gallery in Paris at a former iron foundry, and however, Les Bassin de Lumière was on an entirely different scale. The main installations take place around four large basins partially filled with water. Visitors will follow raised walkways to view the impressive and changing artworks.
I visited shortly after months of lockdown, and the colours, images and music were almost overwhelming. It was an intense experience – I felt as though I was in the artworks, as I followed the raised walkways to view the impressive and constantly changing artworks.
When you visit Bordeaux, I suggest you put Les Bassins de Lumière high on your “must see” list. Buy a ticket online to skip the queue. https://www.bassins-lumieres.com/