Perfect –was the exact word the American light artist James Turrell used to describe the Arlberg’s mountainous landscape when he came to Lech Zürs in 2014. Four years later the region boasts a stunning new work of art.
On 17 September 2018 the moment finally came, the moment that locals and guests had been waiting for: James Turrell’s Skyspace was inaugurated. Due to the location high up in the Alps, at 1,780 altitude metres on Alpe Tannegg, the construction proved rather challenging. The planning and construction phase for the special light space took four years – special conditions such as the enormous amounts of snow had to be included in the calculations.
The private association Horizon Field that managed to win James Turrell for the project was only able to put the project into practise thanks to numerous donors and sponsors. 25 building blocks were sold at 1,000 euro each – which made up a major part of the budget. Around 90 percent of the costs were covered by private parties, only 10 percent came from public funds.
A holistic experience…
The walk-in light space sharpens your senses and perception of space, light, and time. “What I want is to create an event where I invite the spectator to experience it themselves. That way it becomes an entirely personal experience,” is Turrell’s own take on the concept. On the way to the Skyspace, located a few minutes outside Oberlech, the sensual and holistic experience begins. When you get there a cupola indicates you’ve come to the right place, the rest of the domed oval structure is hidden underground, inside a hill. Otto Huber, chair at Horizon Field, explains: “That way we’re meeting the artists’ demand for minimal disturbance of nature.” On the outside visitors are greeted by a panoramic view from the old Bürstegg hamlet all the way to the Biberkopf summit.
... and cultural enrichment
Via a 15-metre tunnel, visitors finally reach the heart of the space: an elliptical Sensing Room that spans nine metres in length and six metres in width, equipped with a bench around the outer edge. This is the place where you can let the light installation’s effect sink in and admire the view of the sky through the impressive cupola with all your senses. The cupola can even be opened – which is something no other Skyspace in the world does. James Turrell is certain: “We never realise that it’s us who give the sky its colour. We always think that everything is predetermined while we actually have an active part in shaping the reality we live in.”
The Skyspace helps Lech Zürs move arts and culture closer to the centre of attention and it has an empowering effect. Mayor Ludwig Muxel is enthusiastic: “We don’t just want to stand out with our offer for athletes, we also want to distinguish ourselves from other destinations with our artistic and cultural scene. James Turrell’s art enriches us and it also has the potential of functioning as a beacon that shines beyond the Arlberg and Vorarlberg region.” Never before has staring off into space been more beautiful and inspiring.
The American artist James Turrell has been working on his Skyspace series of works since the 1970s and today it comprises a total of 75 light spaces. The project in Lech was realised by the Horizon Field arts association Vorarlberg in collaboration with the Häusler Contemporary gallery. The Skyspace is accessible both in summer and winter – and guided tours for groups are available, too. The walk-in work of art in Lech constantly features a light installation that follows the times of sunrise and sunset.
General opening hours
during the winter season:
Tues – Sun noon – 9 pm