Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Nuit Blanche - Toronto 2010

First for the uninitiated, an explanation of the concept behind Nuit Blanche.  Wikipedia describes Nuit Blanche as “(literally White Night, All-Nighter or Sleepless Night in French) or Light Night is an annual all-night or night-time arts festival. Its exact beginning is disputed between Paris, St Petersburg, and Berlin, but, taking elements from all of these, the idea of a night-time festival of the arts has spread around the world since 1997, taking hold from Toronto to Tel Aviv and Lima to Leeds. A Nuit Blanche will typically have museums, private and public art galleries, and other cultural institutions open and free of charge, with the centre of the city itself being turned into a de facto art gallery, providing space for art installations, performances (music, film, dance, performance art), themed social gatherings, and other activities”. 

Nuit Blanche runs from sundown until sunrise for one night which adds an ephemeral quality to the event.  This year marked the 5th edition of Nuit Blanche in Toronto.  Atty and I attended Nuit Blanche 3 years ago and found it quite entertaining.  Unfortunately for various reasons we were unable to attend subsequent editions until this year.   The number of venues was numbered at 130 this year but many additional “unofficial” exhibits were also available for viewing.  As these are spread throughout the city it is impossible to see everything.  The best one can do is confine yourself to a specific geographic region and cherry pick what you want to see.  This year we probably saw about 2 dozen exhibits and walked close to 15 kilometres.  We started out at around 8:30pm in the downtown near the ROM and walked all the way home by 5:30am.  Listed below are some of the exhibits we saw over the course of the night.

One of the first exhibits we visited was outdoors at the ROM where they did a light show projecting images directly on the ROM's Crystal (new wing).
ROM: Crossings

ROM: Crossings
The were several exhibits going on at the U of T campus including one entitled "Protocols and Procedures during a Time of Plague".  Guests were invited to wear latex gloves and masks (not many did).  The exhibit took place in a church and with the exhibitors wearing minister's smocks, latex gloves and masks.  Visitors were invited to drive remote control cars with hands (rubber gloves attached).  Definitely something expected from the U of T crowd (bizarre but funny).
U of  T: Protocols and Procedures during a Time of Plague

U of  T: Protocols and Procedures during a Time of Plague

At U of T's Hart House there were several exhibits one of which had a million pennies in a heap on the floor in one room.  As Atty remarked it actually was thought provoking as it's not often in life that you're able to see a million of anything....  In another area guests were invited to walk through a doorway between two naked women in order to see what it would feel like (uncomfortable, awkward, fun, etc).
One million pennies.....

 In another area on the U of T campus an exhibit had been set up of an Ice Fishing hut.  What's whimsical about this was that the hut was set atop large blocks of ice (as pictured here).  The lighting was such that I couldn't get a good picture of the Ice Hut but the ice blocks did photograph well!
U of  T: Block of Ice from Ice Fishing Hut

U of  T: Block of Ice from Ice Fishing Hut

The lower level of the Atrium on Bay was transformed into a Disco with a DJ, lights and a video screen as guests to the exhibit were invited to dance.
The Atrium on Bay: Dances with Strangers

Here we saw a bonfire in the the middle of Dundas Square at the exhibit which was titled "Just because you can feel it, doesn't mean it's there".
Yonge Dundas Square: Just because you can feel it, doesn't mean it's there

At City Hall there were several video screens set up displaying kaleidoscope like images as music played in the background.  In one case the images were being projected onto the reflecting pool.  At midnight we were treated to several tracks of music from Neil Young's new album.
City Hall

Take one van, revolve on a turntable, put so many holes in the body that it looks like a swiss cheese, light from within for display at night and you have Auto Lamp.  The pattern of holes put into the van was quite intricate and beautiful.  The amount of work involved must have been substantial and only becomes apparent upon closer inspection.  It definitely was worth the visit.
Queen and Yonge St: Auto Lamp

The clown heads wedged between these two buildings were made from recycled billboards and held in place strictly by the air pressure from being inflated.  I thnk it works - by the way coulrophobia is the fear of clown heads.
Yonge St below King: Endgame (Coulrophobia)

The 1850 exhibit was meant to be a light show representation of where the Lake Ontario shoreline was located (in 1850) before Toronto extended the shoreline out using landfill. The fog and lights did have an errie look to them and it was visually striking however, I'm not so sure most people would have been able to identify what the exhibit represented (I know I must be getting old).
33 Yonge Street: 1850

The exhibit "I Cried for You" had an interesting premiss - a film of a director trying to get a shot of an actor trying to cry for a scene in a film.  Watching this though was a bit slow - but points for the concept.
Commerce Court: I Cried For You

The Endless Pace exhibit was interesting as it consisted of sixty dancers sitting in a circle to represent a clockface.  The dancers would get up and perform random dance moves to represent the passage of time.  Although it sounds a bit strange it actually was quite effective and fun to watch.
Commerce Court: The Endless Pace (variation for 60 dancers)

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