Art should be shared. It should be experienced.
ScotiaBank Nuit Blanche had its 5th successful year on Saturday, October 2, 2010 in Toronto, and as a loyal attendee I packed my backpack with extra layers of warm clothes and donned my camera with utter elation as to what the night would hold.
Two main things always bring me running back to this all night art event: the sense of absolute community and the possibility of a chance encounter. Either it be a seemingly impossible encounter with a friend, a chance of connecting with a stranger or the amazement of stumbling upon a random piece of art that is usually hidden down an alleyway or behind a building, each experience lightens my steps and makes the 7pm-7am seem to go by too quickly.
I should be honest here and say that this year’s Nuit Blanche was not my most memorable of the past five years, but that being said, I definitely appreciate the new artists and change that happens every year. An art event like this should never be the same from year to year, it should test boundaries and go beyond and expand just like art should. While I wasn’t as floored or inspired as previous years I did thoroughly enjoy several installations. Here is a taste of what inspired me this year…
Ruby Venus by Company Blonde Dance Projects (Trinity Bellwoods Park) – Imagine this for me: Twenty women all dressed alike in red dresses with holla-hop bottoms and the exact same blonde wigs and make-up all pretending to be aliens in a foreign place. Sounds pretty hilarious and weird, right? It was. It was art taken not so seriously. What seemed like miscellaneous movement, interaction and dancing to some really great violin-type music was hilarious and impossible to look away from. I couldn’t take my eyes off of this installation. I went from one woman to another and was more and more entertained and amused. Really fun installation, I loved it.
Later That Night At The Drive-In by Daniel Lanois (City hall/Nathan Philips Square) – This was by far my favourite installation this year. The square was surrounded by different sized and oriented projection screens that brought your focus to a stage where you could watch live performances or pre-recorded and live mixed tracks with their own visual counterparts that accompanied the music via the many screens. Some of the videos were stunning. I found myself coming back to this installation several times. My last experience was around the same time Daniel Lanois began playing the new Neil Young album in its entirety along with (I’m assuming) newly filmed music videos of the legend himself playing his album. It was fantastic. I’m not sure how long I sat there for but I do remember not being able to feel the lower half of my body before I finally moved on to the next installation.
Aurora by Philip Beesley (Royal Conservatory of Music) – The silence and sense of shared appreciation and curiousity for a piece of art can never be compared to or replaced by anything. Especially in a building surrounded my hundreds of strangers at 2 a.m. Philip Beesley achieved nothing short of awe and wonder at his installation that night. Lights and feather like objects hung from the ceiling along side bulbs that, when people passed by them, triggered the feathers and lights and brought them to life. Doesn’t sound that amazing, right? Yet, I stood there for 10 minutes in a daze from the beauty that I was seeing before realizing how much time had passed. It felt like a dream, especially with the music that was playing in the background.
While those installations were among my favourite, the best part about the whole night was stumbling upon random drum circles, fiddle players and other live music in the streets or in parks across the city. I’m not even sure if any of the ones I saw were an official part of Nuit Blanche but that didn’t make them any less of an experience. Hundreds of people gathered around these musicians and danced with strangers. Things like that are amazing no matter what day of the week it is.
I headed home just before sunrise with a very over used and wrinkled program, filled with poutine and hot chocolate and with fresh blisters on my feet. As I climbed into bed I found myself feeling like I had just experienced a once in a life time event. That’s exactly what each year of Nuit Blanche is to me: one night to gobble down one time art in all its forms. I hope that you too had a chance to have your own encounters this year, but if not ,maybe this article has convinced you to head out and explore the city at its fullest during next years Nuit Blanche.
Don’t forget! Go here to vote for your favourite artist/installation. They could walk away with $5,000 and you could win some cool prizes too.
Also, please check out Scotiabank’s Donate for Hope, this year donations can be made to The Creative Works Studio who is dedicated to fostering healing and recovery through the creative arts. Visit this website to read more or to make a donation.
Photography: Shannon Lintott
Shannon Lintott works in production at a professional theatre company in Toronto. A recent graduate of the Ryerson Performance Production BFA program, she spends her free time exploring the internet, taking photographs, reading or writing on one of her numerous and addictive websites. The majority of her time is spent watching movies and reviewing them on her movie review blog I Like (good) Movies. Follow Shannon on Twitter.