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February 9, 2018

The Northern Lights of North Terrace

Borealis, a light installation from Swiss artist, Dan Acher, is set to bring the Northern Lights to North Terrace

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  • Words: Sharmonie Cockayne
  • Photos: Courtesy of Dan Acher

With just light, water and air, Swiss artist, Dan Acher has created a simulation of the Northern Lights, and, this February and March, for the Fringe‘s Parade of Light, the installation will call North Terrace home.


Dan Acher’s Borealis will be part of the Parade of Light on North Terrace at the Fringe.

February 16 marks both the opening of the Fringe, and the first night Borealis will go live.

The huge light artwork is called Borealis and has appeared in Switzerland and Japan before making the trip to Adelaide.

Dan says Borealis and the Fringe is a perfect pairing: their intention is the same.

“The Adelaide Fringe, it’s a festival that brings people from around the city, the state, the country and the world together. The little city of Adelaide transforms into a hub of human connection, shared experience,” Dan says.

Artist, Dan Acher

“That’s what is behind Borealis – creating a new ritual, a new place where these emotions can be shared and we can come and get together.

But to re-create Northern Lights adds another layer of human connection .

“It goes back to the stars. The stars are something that mesmerises people, and it brings something to that is really deep in us. As long as the light is moving… somehow it brings us back to some very deep roots,” he says.

Dan’s desire to connect with human nature in this way stems from his studies, and permeates through the way he lives his life and his work at large.

I studied social anthropology in Auckland, New Zealand…  I’ve always been interested in how people live together, what makes us human, what makes it better, people coming together, how we form culture and cohesion.

“I’m really interested in the city and how a city can create culture, to get people together instead of being thought about as just a tool concerned with how to get people from A to B the fastest. To have the most efficient city, but also about bringing the humanity back in the heart of the city. You know, the tool of how to get people together and share a human experience.”

Dan hopes that the installation can visit cities all over the world, so people of all walks of life can share the experience.

“There is a very small population of people who will be able to experience the real Northern Lights or Southern Lights, and I was hoping to bring this emotion, this art to anyone in the world, any population. That was my dream.”

Interestingly, the light installation is never the same – it changes according to the location it lives in.

“It totally depends on the natural environment of the place, whether it’s warm, cold, humid, it all reacts differently. So it’s always very specific to that place, the experience.”

CityMag is fascinated to see how Adelaide reacts to Borealis, both atmospherically and emotionally.

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