The opposite hemisphere
From African drumming street parties, to rave dance-offs in the park, to some amazing and thought-provoking works of artistry, Scotiabank Nuit Blanche brought Toronto’s finest in creative and abstract art to the streets.
As a newcomer to the city from Melbourne, Australia, I have
been impressed with Toronto’s constant entertainment events happening throughout the year. With Nuit Blanche at the top of my list of things to see, I began the night with high hopes. My night started off in the Distillery District, where the surrounding old brick buildings contrasted with a variety of new art and
As we night-crawlers battled against the very northern temperatures (to say the least), we arrived at Queen Street West. Surrounded by the young and fashionable, we worked our way to the westernmost point of Queen, where there was a smorgasbord of independent and local artists to be found. The atmosphere, despite the freezing temperatures, was happy and energetic, friends greeted friends on the street, and the weird and wonderful were everywhere.
After many hours of taking in the sights and sounds of Nuit Blanche, the presence of increasingly drunk and disorientated people began to signal the end to our night. After seven hours of constant walking, and only a few hours until sunrise, we were done for the night.
Overall, my first experience of Nuit Blanche, combined with my growing knowledge of Toronto’s art scene, made this cold fall night one I will never forget. I look forward to the next event this city has to offer with anticipation.
Gettups and Hiccups
Nuit Blanche displayed a pleasant mixture of performance and art, bringing Toronto alive until the early morning. The festival showcased local and international art combined with talented street performers.
My impression of Nuit Blanche was mixed to say the least. Past negative reviews left me wondering if this festival was worth the expected frigid four degree temperatures for the night. The artwork quickly changed any misconceptions I might have had. The night was well worth the chill.
The first location that captured my eye was the Gladstone Hotel. Having always loved the architecture of the building, I appreciated the way they incorporated the artwork.
From the Museum of Contemporary Art’s take on Patriotism with Patria o Libertad! to the wonders of urban flight with Flightpath Toronto, the festival continued to impress.
Gallery West had a cool concept for their artwork incorporating the spectators into their artwork with music, balloons, a piñata, pizza, and cake in a hope to make everyone’s night a bit brighter.
Despite being mostly pleased with the exhibits, there were a few misconceived and occasionally unnecessary artworks. Some of the art pushed the boundaries of contemporary art with shock value debauchery.
To make navigation easier, the Night Nav app for Blackberry and iPhone was created, allowing you to map out your desired destinations for the night based on the exhibits you wanted to see. The app seemed useful in theory, but failed to work throughout the night, displaying an error message where the map should have been.
It was my first year attending Nuit Blanche-—I was unsure where to begin and what to expect. The overall feel of the night was fantastic. It showcased artwork as well as the diversity of Toronto as both a city and a cultural cornucopia.
Which of these things is not like the other?
My fourth year attending Nuit Blanche, I noticed—amidst some cool exhibitions—that a few things were out of place.
The best artistic installations this year were Intensity and OCAD’s Future Forward models. Intensity is an interactive tent city, and far from what I initially expected. Instead of a physical tent city, participants can stick their heads inside a tent, and see other tents until they are “evicted”. Future Forward had a model whose face lights up red when you would blow, a skirt that made wind inside that blew coloured beads, and a model, that if you walked close enough to, made a noise.
A notable mention goes to A Stereo Efficiency Cheer, which featured a stone-faced girl chanting “be efficient” on a video screen. The pieces were both striking and different.
Not all the features were true to the event. There were street musicians taking advantage of the large crowds, along with vendors selling used books, cotton candy, and light sabres. The event has become increasingly commercial, including a Chevrolet Cadillac Showcase and Virgin Mobile’s sponsorship. Most of the stores on Yonge Street were open to the public. Admittedly, I did enjoy the food trucks by Timothy’s and Tiny Tom’s Donuts and tasty treats like funnel cakes and corn on the cob.
Nuit Blanche has evolved into a street fair, going from pure art to commercialist spectacle in four years. The quality of the art is decreasing, and the effort is moving away from avant garde and towards laissez-faire.