The first thing that came to mind when I saw the new lighting design for the Acropolis was the popular café Flat White. Where the lighting of the monument used to be warm, highlighting its bas-reliefs and endowing both the rock and the citadel with an equal role, the new lighting is cold and flat, downplaying – if not effacing – the role of the rock in relation to the Acropolis, in the name, I suspect, of an unnecessary effort to showcase the latter – at the expense of the former.
I hear that it is all very impressive from up close, though the illuminated Acropolis is something we can only enjoy from a distance, as the site is closed at night.
I confess that I was particularly fond of the old lighting design and the special way it had of bringing out all the textures and shapes of the monument, which is probably why I am having trouble coming to terms with the new one. Maybe I’ll get used to it with time, but I doubt I’ll ever really grow fond of it, cold as it is. In fact, I don’t remember ever hearing anyone complaining about the previous lighting or describing it as a “yellow mess.”
I understand that the site’s lighting system needed to be repaired and that the old bulbs needed to be replaced with new, more technologically advanced ones, and I also appreciate the fact that all this work was carried out thanks to a private donation. But why did the philosophy and aesthetics of the lighting system have to change? Was it, perhaps, that maintenance and new bulbs were deemed too mundane and the sponsors felt the need to leave their mark on our most important monument?
According to the minister of culture, “the image of the Acropolis, our foremost monument, reflects and projects the image of the country.” If this is true, does it mean our country has become colder, flatter and more devoid of color?