Plensa Sculpture Shines in Durham

Plensa & DPAC
Jaume Plensa’s “Sleep No More” now lights up the night sky at Durham’s Performing Arts Center.

The new Durham Performing Arts Center has opened its doors, and a brightly-lit sculpture – visible for miles – was unveiled at Monday, December 1, 2008, evening’s open house.

The sculpture, by noted Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, shoots a shaft of bright blue light straight to the sky.

“We need to create a magic space, you know,” Plensa said.

The sculpture, entitled “Sleep No More,” consists of a 13-foot-diameter disk of aluminum and stainless steel that bears a quote from William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” in raised letters spiraling out from the center. A 7,000-watt beam of light shoots up vertically from an underground bulb through a lens in the middle of the disk, which sits on the ground.
Plensa created the same space in Chicago.

“They transformed a hole in the ground into this miraculous piece of art and architecture,” architect Mark Sexton said.

Plensa’s work has also appeared in New York.

Sleep No More
The bottom of the light sculpture includes a quote from MacBeth.
The Durham Performing Arts Center is now open in the downtown of the Bull City.

“It’s like a landscape. A text is a landscape, plenty of possibilities,” Plensa said.

In 2005, a Plensa sculpture was offered for the south end of Raleigh’s Fayetteville Street, which was being reopened to traffic downtown after years as a pedestrian mall.

Some officials complained the lights would detract from the view from the State Capitol to the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts. The controversy caused Plensa to drop out of the project

“I’m completely convinced he (City Manager Russell Allen) is doing a huge mistake. He needs more information about the actual world,” Plensa said of the rejection.

But Plensa has come full circle as three of his sculptures will hang in Raleigh, at the North Carolina Museum of Art, next year.

“It’s a pleasure,” Plensa said of having his work displayed in Raleigh.

Jim Goodmon, the president and chief executive of Capitol Broadcasting Co., donated the Plensa sculpture to the Durham Performing Arts Center. Capitol Broadcasting is the parent company of WRAL.

“Cities need to take risk. In fact, if you don’t take risk, you’re like every other city in the world,” Sexton said.

“People need spaces just to relax and to think. Wow, this is such a wonderful city,” Plensa said.

The $48 million performing arts center opened Sunday night with a performance by legendary blues singer B.B. King.

The multi-use performance space, which seats up to 2,800 people, is the largest performing arts center in both North Carolina and South Carolina

The center’s Spring 2009 calendar is already booked with a slew of Broadway shows, including “Rent,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Wicked” and “The Color Purple.” 

Watch the WRAL-TV News Story here.

Thanks to for this capcom story & these capcom photos.


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