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Light Break

Nicolai Howalt’s project Light Break is about light – its symbolic meaning and healing effect. With an outset in doctor and Nobel laureate Niels Finsen’s light therapy, Nicolai Howalt examines visual traces from the ultraviolet rays that the patients were treated with. By leading the light rays through rock crystal prisms, Finsen and his team – in revolutionary fashion – treated a number of otherwise incurable diseases. The patients had a wax mask (a ‘moulage’) made of their faces so you could follow their progress. For almost 100 years the moulages have been stored away, but through a collaboration with Medical Museion in Copenhagen, the masks have finally come out from hiding. Improper storage has given the moulages an ever further abnormal appearance and added additional marks of reality to the medical casts. In his photographic works, Howalt tries to approach the expression and colours of the UV rays. Colours which cannot be experienced, as the colour temperature is so low that it is not visible to the human eye. But what do these rays look like and how do we understand them today? It is questions such as these, that Howalt touches upon in the project Light Break.
Text by Nicolai Howalt.