Luminato festival adds energy to old Hearn generating station

The 10th annual Luminato Arts Festival kicked off Friday, with artists transforming the rebar and concrete wasteland into a light-filled artistic spectacle.

Old Hearn Generating Station transformed into an art and light-filled artistic spectacle

Luminato's artistic director Jorn Weisbrodt said he wanted to use the Hearn and the festival to show what cultural institution of the 21st Century could look like. (CBC)

The 10th annual Luminato Arts Festival kicked off Friday night at the Hearn Generating Station, which hasn't functioned as a power plant since 1985.

To kick off the opening night, parachuters leapt from the top of the 215-metre-high smokestack. (Laura Wright/CBC)

The festival is taking over the entire massive station in the Portlands this year. Having sat in decay for decades, the Hearn, with its run-down, rustic aesthetic, has been used over the past few years for the sets of post-apocalyptic movies and for private parties.


Jorn Weisbrodt, the festival's artistic director for the past five years, says he wanted to use the space to show what a cultural institution of the 21st Century could look like.


"I want to create appetite with what we've done here, and set the bar so high it can't become a shopping centre or a car park," Weisbrodt told CBC News. "It's an opportunity to do something on the cultural level that has no equal in the world."

One of the onlookers was internationally renowned Canadian musician Rufus Wainwright, left, who is Weisbrodt's husband. (CBC)
Many of the artists made use of the building's unique architecture with their light-based installations. (Laura Wright/CBC)

Weisbrodt said the festival at the Hearn has been a two-year 'passion project.' He said Torontonians haven't really had the opportunity to see the incredible building, but now they can.

A giant disco ball also lit up the unusual space. (CBC)

"The space is just so beautiful. When you step into the space you feel like you're in a different world, and I think that's really what we want to try to achieve with art and culture."

Festival attendees were able to dine off the old control boards. (CBC)

The plant has been retrofitted with a theatre, a dance hall, a gallery and even a restaurant where visitors can dine atop the old control panels.

Artist Franco Arcieri's work. (CBC)
Artists Trudy Erin Elmore, Anda Kubis and Jennie Suddick's work. (Emily Gove)

This year, artists have the run of the place, transforming the building's unique architecture and capitalizing on its strangeness.

Artist Katie Kotler's piece. (Katie Kotler)

Many of the artists are showing light-based installations, which bring warmth and movement to the concrete and rebar wasteland.

Artists Parastoo Anoushahpour, Ryan Ferko and Faraz Anoushahpour's installation. (Emily Gove)

The festival, which has ticketed and free events, runs until June 26.


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