The Award

Goal of the International Light Art Award, an initiative of the Centre for International Light Art Unna and Innogy Foundation, is to show works by emerging artists, who will contribute to the development of light art in an innovative and creative way. As a competence centre of light art, it is the museum’s concern to inspire and promote. Artists working with light are often exposed to difficult conditions: light art installations need specific rooms that do justice to the works and to the effects the artists wish to achieve. Since light art is a relatively young genre, museums also tend to present only established artists. High financial as well as technical requirements thus mean that artists are often unable to realize their ideas and are forced to show their projects as mere models. This reduces the artistic impact they might otherwise have achieved when building an actual installation.

With this award and the accompanying exhibition in Unna, we, the Centre for International Light Art, want to provide a platform for future generations of light artists. New technologies, energy usage, and sustainability will play an important role in the competition. They are aspects that must be taken into account – whether in regard to the technology used or the content discussed in a work – when considering the “Future of Light Art”, the central theme of the competition.

"As light becomes a key cross-cutting discipline in the 21st century, it is essential that its importance is fully appreciated. It is equally vital that the brightest young minds from all areas of the world continue to be attracted to careers in this field." (UNESCO)


Innogy Foundation aims to provide access to art and culture, choosing forms of expression that draw on energy: the Foundation supports light and video art as well as projects in the electronic media.

Our funding gives priority to artistic projects that follow interdisciplinary approaches and seek a dialogue going beyond the bounds of individual disciplines, institutions and target groups. In this way, art is able to create impetus for our society and redefine the boundaries.

Furthermore, Innogy Foundation provides young artists with their first opportunities to develop and present themselves. For example, our artist-in-residence programme offers artists space for them to shape as they wish.

You can also find Innogy Foundation on Facebook!

artist-in-residence programme Facebook

1st Edition

In 2015, the International Light Art Award took place for the first time. A Recommendation Committee consisting of light art experts from all over the world, artists, curators, museum directors, academics, and collectors, nominated two artists each to participate in the ILAA. 29 artists (duos) handed in concepts and three finalists were chosen by the international jury consisting of Christian Boros (art collector, Berlin / DE), Bjorn Geldhof (artistic director PunchukArtCentre, Kiev / UA), Kazuo Katase (artist, DE / JP), Christina Kubisch (artist, Berlin / DE), Cliff Lauson (curator Hayward Gallery, London / GB), Christoph Noe (art consultant, HK), and Jan van Munster (artist, Oost-Souburg, NL). Regrettably, Otto Piene, who had agreed to be chairman of the jury, died in July 2014. He was enthusiastic about the prospect of supporting future generations of light artists.

After realizing their three concepts at the Centre for International Light Art in Unna, the award ceremony took place at Berliner Festspiele in Berlin at the end of January 2015 and the exhibition opened at the museum for a 5-month-run.

1st Place: “the weight of light”

The gedankenexperiment of light as a concrete medium, subject to gravity, is the assumption underlying the installation of Cologne based artists Martin Hesselmeier & Andreas Muxel. In “the weight of light”, visitors are surrounded by LED tracks transporting light and creating a world in which light doesn’t act the way we are used to.

„Light, as we usually interpret it, is an element without mass and gravity. “the weight of light” is an attempt to project artificial forces onto moving light impulses. As a game playing with learned perception, it purposefully creates moments of irritation in a fictional room of light. We are happy about the opportunity to present this work in such an incomparable location.“

Andreas Muxel

Born in 1979, Andreas Muxel studied Media Communication Design at the University of Applied Sciences Vorarlberg in Austria until 2004. He worked as an interaction designer for MARS-Exploratory Media Lab at the Fraunhofer Institute for Media Communication from 2004 to 2007 and finished his postgraduate studies at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne in 2008. His works were part of numerous international media art festivals, e.g. GLOW Eindhoven, FILE Festival São Paulo, TodaysArt Festival Brussels, and LUMINALE X Frankfurt.

Martin Hesselmeier

Martin Hesselmeier (1978) received his diploma in communication design at the University of Applied Sciences, Academy of Arts and Design, in 2002. He continued his studies in the field of audio-visual media at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne, finishing successfully in 2007. In his work, he focusses on reactive installations and the limits of human perception. His works have been presented at numerous different institutions and were part of many international media art festivals, e.g. ARTCOLOGNE in Cologne, Lexus Hybrid Art in Moscow, and amber-festival in Istanbul.

2nd Place: “Traffic”

Also chosen as finalist by the international jury, Chilean Iván Navarro works with societal symbols, presenting them outside their usual meaningful context. “Traffic”, a traffic light mobile, bathes the room in light, switching between the well-known colours. In this context, though, the viewer has to interpret their symbolism anew.

“Order and abstraction are the main ideas that inspired me to make the project Traffic. I am interested in how traffic lights use three different colours to control social behaviour. The light’s colours are an abstraction or a symbol signalling how people should act in three different states of perception: stop, attention, and go.”

Iván Navarro,

born 1972, studied at Pontificia Universidad Católica of Chile in Santiago, Chile from 1991 to 1995. He received numerous grants and residencies, e.g. repeatedly the Fondart, a grant by the Ministry for Education and Culture in Santiago, Chile, but also Artists’ Residencies in New York and London. His works are represented internationally in exhibitions such as at Guggenheim Museum (2014), New York, and at the Gallery Hyundai in Seoul, Korea.

3rd Place: “Erleuchtung | Enlightenment”

A fundamentally participatory installation is the concept by another Cologne based artist: Dirk Vollenbroich. Only when activated by the visitors’ brainwaves does “Erleuchtung” (epiphany / enlightenment) become visible, and only those who achieve a meditative state of mind can find “enlightenment”.

„The differentiated states of consciousness or rather neuronal impulses of the brain, transformed into light kinetics, become readable, for the recipient interacting with the work ENLIGHTENMENT as well as for the public around them.“

Dirk Vollenbroich

Born in 1969, Dirk Vollenbroich studied at the University of Applied Sciences Münster (Physics) as well as at the Academy of Fine Arts Münster and received different fellowships and awards, e.g. of the Cité Internationales des Arts Paris, the Collection Alain Servais in Brussels, and the Baldreit-stipend of the city Baden-Baden. His works have been displayed internationally in exhibitions and at festivals from the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt to the Biennial Audio Visual Madrid Abierto in Spain and the Foundation Ol-Futuro in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

April 2016
14th August, 2016
Deadline Concepts
October 2016
Jury chooses the 3 finalists
October 2016 - March 2017
Finalists realize their concepts
April 2017
Award ceremony + Opening of the accompanying exhibition in Unna
September 2017
Exhibition “The Future of Light Art” closes


Centre for International Light
Art Unna

Lindenplatz 1
59423 Unna

Christofer Schmidt (Project Management)

Fon: +49 2303 103 770

For press information and visuals, as well as interview requests, please contact:

ARTPRESS - Ute Weingarten
Danziger Str. 2
10435 Berlin
+49 (0) 30 48 49 63 50
Press releases and high-resolution photos can be downloaded free of charge from