Alexander Reichstein: They Were Here / Ghostly Guests

In UV light, figures from the past come to life like ghosts, on-going since 2015

THEY WERE HERE brings people from other times and places to life. I think people never truly disappear without a trace: they stay there as long as we remember them and imagine them. Persons from the past wander in the park, meet each other in the street and enjoy fresh air on the balcony. I have created glowing, almost immaterial figures from different times to be displayed in a historically important environment and to be met by today’s inhabitants. In UV light, figures bent from wire and sprayed with fluorescent paint come to life like ghosts. These translucent characters blend in with their background, and surroundings of the old quarters become part of the work. The stylised figures remind on line drawings, but are three-dimensional. Now there are more than 50 natural-size figures to choose from – females and males, grown-ups and children, cats, dogs and rats. They represent different times from the ancient ages till 1940s. The project started in 2015 but is changing and growing all the time, for each display I make it site-specific. The sculptures can be placed in an old park or garden, in the old quarters or in any place with proper environment. They are resistant to wind, rain and sunshine, but sensitive to vandalism. There should be as little light as possible in the area nearby – the glowing effect works only in the darkness. Most figures stand on the ground, some sculptures have to be hanged. There is also available a musical background for the installation, a collage from fragments of music from different ages.

Dimensions of the work:

Up to the amount of sculptures used, from 100 m2 till 800m2. Can be adjusted to any space.

Spaces suitable for exhibiting the work:

Outdoors, Outdoors, under a roof, Cold space (eg. a shed, a silo etc.), Semi-heated space, Heated space

Work’s durability:

Rain, Humidity, Sunlight, frost, snow - anything

Requirements for the space:

fully dark, dark (gleaming exit-lights etc. allowed)

Colouring requirements:

dark coloured

Electricity consumption:

up to the amount of UV-lights used, from 50W till 1000W

Support and other structures:

The work needs support structures, hanging points, or similar, The work needs audio equipment (player & speakers)


ambient sound

Minimum height of the space: 


Minimum square meters of the space: 


Building time and people required (estimate): 

2-3 days (2-3 helpers) for mounting, 1 day (2 helpers) for dismantling

Artist's presence: 

Guidance can be provided for building

On-site building: 

Assembled on-site


BLAF Best of Light Art in Finland
is hosted by
Finnish Light Art Society FLASH

Producer: Annukka Ketola
+358 40 735 3972

Mia Kivinen /
Anna Björklund /

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