Skyspace Lech

Tannegg, Gemeinde Lech, 6764 Lech, Austria

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The famous American land artist James Turrell fell in love with the Arlberg area on a visit in 2014 and decided that its mountain terrain would be a perfect place for one of his Skyspace projects. It took the town a number of years to gain approval and raise funds, but the inground “Light Room” opened in 2018.

Dug into the side of a mountain in Oberlech, the “sensing room” (a stone-surrounded circular space with a round aperture open to the air in the ceiling and stone walls with benches for viewing) is reached via a 35-foot tunnel dug into the earth.

The space is open to the public daily, but is best seen at sunrise and sunset, when the Turrell light show runs. The opening to the sky remains open when the weather is not inclement; so one can take a small hike from Oberlech or ski down to the Skyspace at any time to experience “the Ganzfeld effect,” a sensory deprivation phenomenon that can induce hallucinations. For the greatest effect, one should book tickets for the hour-long light show timed each day to start one-hour before sunset. The artist hoped that the space would challenge visitors to consider such questions as whether the sky is really blue; how optical illusions impact our senses and what our relationship to the sky is. As Turrell has said, “We are not aware that we ourselves give the sky its colors.”

Written by Melissa Biggs Bradley

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