Stopping Traffic Liberty Street Hosts Luzinterruptus Art Installation

What does Ann Arbor have in common with Toronto, Melbourne, and New York City? The answer is simple; all these cities have been a temporary home to the work of Luzinterruptus.

The group is an anonymous Spanish art collective who use light and darkness in their self-identified “urban interventions,” and their influence has spanned the globe, reaching Ann Arbor on the evening of Oct. 23 in the form of a large, public art installation.

Titled ‘Literature Vs Traffic’, the piece certainly stopped traffic on Liberty Street. Thousands of books with LED lights placed inside paved the road and lit up the dark sky by the State Theater, drawing a crowd throughout the night. Initially, those running the installation said the piece would be open for walk-throughs after 8pm. But excitement overtook the audience, many of whom slipped past the gates in place and began looking through the reused books much earlier. People took pictures and videos; one woman Facetimed her friend, showing her what was happening in real time. The busy location choice was no coincidence. The collective says on their website (linked below) that they hope to see literature “take over the streets and conquer public places,” and to create areas that “succumb to the humble power of the written word.”

The location wasn’t the only way Ann Arborites got involved. The University of Michigan Institute of Humanities called for volunteers to help piece together the installation. Community High School freshman Colette Klun was one of many who helped out, placing the lights in the books the Saturday prior. She seemed proud that Ann Arbor was joining “the big cities” that had put on these exhibits, and emphasized the necessity of community involvement.

“There are a bunch of movements going on,” Klun said. “Volunteering is pretty important.”

Klun also noticed the contrast between the chaotic nature of the piece and the creation process, pointing out the calm atmosphere of the room while she volunteered and the careful sorting of books into boxes.

Surprisingly, one of the work’s highlights was it’s disassembly. At the end of the night, the crowd was encouraged to take the books home. They had everything from cookbooks to car manuals, and there was something for everyone. It also served as a testament to the spirit of the piece: the crowd was able to to take the art — and the meaning — home with them.

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