We Nuit Blanched
Barb Roth | On 05, Oct 2014
On Saturday night, we took in Nuit Blanche Toronto. This is year six of the all night art spectacle which takes over the streets for a twelve hour period from dusk to dawn. Part scavenger hunt (finding the exhibits you’re looking for is all a part of the fun) and part immersive art experience, Nuit never fails to surprise, astound, delight and, sometimes, puzzle.
Myself and my trusty Vespa chauffeur (and fellow art exploring companion), hit the streets about two hours into the start of the night. While the temperature was on the brisk side, I’d recommend two wheels as the right mode of transit. While traffic and road closures impacted getting around, we were never too delayed in getting from spot to spot.
Our first stop was the much anticipated Night Circus series. Being a big fan of the 2011 novel by Erin Morgenstern, from which the inspiration for this collection of exhibits was taken, I was hoping to come across as curious a collection of performers as was described in the book. While we didn’t hit them all, these were our highlights:
Set up in Union Station, this exhibit bills itself as “your guide to novel sonic realms and unexpected visions”. Essentially it is a combination of a visual and aural installation which allows viewers to interact with it via smartphone, allowing them to shape their interaction with the piece. The creators, have collaborated on a number of projects since 1983 influencing a generation of media artists. Photo below, difficult to capture but think you can get the interesting eyeball effect.
The next stop in the Night Circus series was this compelling “mouvelle” exhibit by Quebec City’s Diane Landry. Her works are characterized by the use of ordinary objectives set up in extraordinary ways and employ constant movement. In this version she uses a canoe and sheets of plastic to create the impression of hovering in mid-air and surrounded by waves of water. The video my chauffeur companion snapped gives you a pretty good idea of how it worked.
The clear highlight of the night for both myself and my trusty companion was this water tank installation set up across from the new aquarium. The photo series we posted will give you an idea of what went on but I can’t express how compelling this was to observe and to photograph. The exhibit fills and drains with 12 tons of water on an automated cycle, forcing the performer within to adapt to the constantly changing environment perhaps alluding to the way humanity must constantly adapt to our surroundings. The shifting set of circumstances had me wondering “what will she do next”, “how is it possible to hold your breath for that long” and “what’s she thinking now”.
Lars Jan is founding artistic director of Early Morning Opera, a performance art lab that specializes in creating works using emerging technologies, live audiences, and delivering unclassifiable experiences. I will certainly be keeping my eyes open for more from this group now that they’re on my radar.
The Rest Of What We Took In
These were the highlights – they were not all highlights. Perhaps due to the cold and the fact that we were travelling around on a scooter creating wind chill every time we moved, my trusty chauffeur got grumpier and less interested in the art experience as the evening went on. I won’t single any one exhibit out but it all lead to following assessment from my fellow art explorer: “At various times it was Bleu Nuit, Nuit Turd, Nuit Tres Interesting, but Mostly Freeze The Balls Off A Brass Nuit.” I guess I’d say that’s mostly true but also kind of the point – half the fun is not knowing exactly what you’re going to come across and the joy and delight of being amazed when you do experience something truly wonderful. I’ll be back next year, perhaps minus my intrepid Vespa chauffeur.
But Wait – It’s Not Done Quite Yet
A number of exhibits including 8th Wonder will be held over through next weekend (October 12 & 13). For more details, check in with Après Nuit.