Nuit Blanche 2020

This year Nuit Blanche displayed its exhibit online with several other programmings available for viewers. (Courtesy of the City of Toronto / Edited by Mahdis Habibinia)

Nuit Blanche is one of Toronto’s most famous contemporary art exhibits. Every October since its debut in 2006, Nuit Blanche displays interactive art exhibits all over the city from sundown to sunrise. This year, Nuit Blanche’s theme is “The Space Between Us,” and the exhibit is offering a variety of online formats for its viewers, from podcasts to virtual reality. 

According to the website, the theme “focuses on the connections across urban, polar and pacific landscapes revealing the space between us as a potential site for sharing knowledge.” Grabbing a curatorial inspiration from the global pandemic, the theme also stages the importance of communities coming together during a crisis and standing up for humanity, in order to support each other’s connections to different cultures, knowledge, nations, and practices.

“The Space Between Us” theme encourages artists tobuild bridges between cultures, communities, and the environment — to transform the city by telling your stories about the connection to place.”

Dr. Julie Nagam, artistic director for Nuit Blanche 2020-21 and research chair in Indigenous Arts, Collaboration and Digital Media, stated: “It’s an exciting time for digital media because we are so relevant with the global shift to virtual environment as we are collaborating with more than 45 artists engaging the public through streamed content.”

Nuit Blanche 2020 saw a plethora of mediums, including: soundscapes and DJs for Nuit Live, virtual reality with Nuit in Your Neighbourhood, a series of 40-minute podcasts and 60-minute lectures on Nuit Talks and Nuit Podcast, and a “digital walk down memory lane with over 1,000 works from the last 14 years,” as seen with Nuit History.

    The benefit of transitioning to a virtual experience is that art-goers and art-lovers alike are not confined to experiencing the magic of Nuit Blanche in just 12 hours.

The benefit of transitioning to a virtual experience is that art-goers and art-lovers alike are not confined to experiencing the magic of Nuit Blanche in just 12 hours. All of their streamed content is available online for free, even after its completion, and actually with more yet to come! 

Nuit Talks is scheduled to stream two more webinars on October 8 and 15. Whereas Nuit Podcast is divided into a series of 10 episodes that began on October 3 and will be released one-by-one until May 3, 2021.

This year also saw multiple York community members featured in its programming.

York alumna Natasha Henry, who is also president of the Ontario Black History Society, kicked off Nuit Talks on September 17 with Nagam and other experts on Sites of Memory, Placemaking and Monuments. The panel discussed “monuments and the global political shift of the public removal of historical statutes” as well as “the important public projects and cultural shifts in their cities.” 

Dr. Janine Marchessault, professor of Cinema and Media Arts at York, appeared on the third installation of Nuit Talks to discuss the current “public health crisis of COVID-19 and the necessities of reconfiguring audiences and processes of public participation” while also analyzing “global concerns about the future of public art through both material and speculative resolutions.”

In fact, Toronto Mayor John Tory was also featured in a one-on-one webinar with Nagam to discuss public art as well as the changes that COVID-19 has brought to communities.

“Nuit Blanche 2020 might feel and look different, however, the overall programming endeavours to recreate the feeling of exploring art in public spaces and the excitement of discovery, wonder, and awe,” Nagam said.

About the Author

By Mahdis Habibinia

Former Editor

Mahdis is a York University graduate with an Honours BA in Professional Writing, a Certificate in Spanish Language Proficiency, and an expected Master of Journalism '23. She is also fluent in Farsi. She began her journey with Excalibur as a contributor in 2017 then worked as executive editor from 2018-2020. For the 2020-2021 year, Mahdis served as editor-in-chief. She is curious about the world, BIPOC stories, and passionate about writing as a platform for advocacy and representation. She hopes to one day add to the diversity of Canadian media both in the content it produces and as a staff member. When Mahdis is not writing or editing or correcting people on the spelling of her name, she is likely marathon-viewing thrillers and crime shows that oddly bear no impact on her sleep.


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