Carme Pinós, who received the National Architecture Award in 2021 and Creu de Sant Jordi of the Generalitat de Catalunya in 2015, says that spatial generosity is not a waste and that, in her trade, luxury is not marble or triple heights but the breeze that blows into the buildings and the excitement that said structures awaken in those who visit them. Navarrese architect Rafael Moneo –author of the Kursaal Convention Center and the Catholic temple of Iesu in the Riberas de Loiola District (both in San Sebastián)– also works under that very premise. The aforementioned church is not only the greatest icon of religious architecture in the twenty-fist century in the Basque Country but also the stage that houses the Argiartean initiative by Donostia Kultura.
This festival, which celebrates light art and local talent, welcomed more than 5,000 people for three consecutive nights in its last edition in the fall of 2022. The aim? To promote, through the use of light, the implementation and exhibition of experimental pieces by artists of different disciplines and profiles. This was demonstrated by talents like Puy Barral and Garazi Navas with their collages of words, José Zugasti and Borja Jiménez with a sculpture that rose into a sky of moving spheres, Beñat Achiary and Joseba Irazoki with their tribute to filmmaker José Antonio Sistiaga, and the musical band Bongho Krappul and its exotic psychedelia.
Argiartean is a tribute to light through amazing light-art installations, monumental projections, and live performances. It is an ode to the most luminous part of life whose stage could not be more evocative: the “Iesu” (meaning “Jesus” in Greek) Church and the adjacent Garden of Remembrance. The elements of light, wind, and water –with the Urumea River just a few meters away– make up a succession of the Olatu Talka Project of 2019. Such is the vocation for continuity that this year Argiartean will be held on October 6, 7, and 8 at the same location.
How was Moneo to know in 2011 that his courage in designing iconography that would reflect current aesthetic concerns was going to become a shining beacon (never better said) that illuminates and shelters not only the faithful who come to this sanctuary but also those who are curious and stop by Argiartean. Moneo’s architecture rejects grandiloquence and provocation and reminds us that humans are nothing more than individuals trying to relate to nature. The light of Iesu and that of the artists at Argiartean certainly make that easier.
Photograph: Iñaki Rubio.