I've become a regular attendee of Nuit Blanche, Toronto's dusk to dawn arts festival, since its inception.
I find much of Nuit Blanche to be pretty pretentious so I got the idea a few years ago that, as an artistically rebellious act to mock that aura, I'd show those pretentious artistes what real pretension is. I obtained all the application paperwork and filled out forms to submit to the City of Toronto to try to be part of this wide-ranging event. However, the people I thought would support my large-scale interactive installation weren't as supportive as their early enthusiasm indicated and I never applied. But I promise that's not why I'm a bit jaded about Nuit Blanche.
The art itself, with some exceptions, has never overly impressed me. And even though I've lowered my expectations since the early years, I still come away with a "meh" attitude towards what I've seen.
I'm a night owl and usually have the streets pretty much to myself when I'm walking around at 4 a.m., so I find it interesting to see the streets packed with people (presumably) seeking out art after midnight.
I've regularly attended the South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas for the past dozen years and I find that Queen Street on Nuit Blanche has become like 6th Street during SXSW. If you've ever attended the sprawling March music fest, you'll know that's not a compliment.
But Nuit Blanche has become an early autumn ritual for me and I'll probably attend as long as it exists, especially if -- like last night -- the promised rain holds off and the temperatures are comfortable.
Here are some of the things that caught my eye in walking around downtown Toronto (and avoiding things that had excessively long lineups to get into) from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. on Oct. 1 and 2:
|This was a sort-of air hockey game played on a metal surface covered in flames behind Site 3 coLaboratory.|
|These were scans of small porcelain dolls that were blown up, illuminated and presented like this. It was a bit eerie at Markham House.|
|This is what the interior of the former David Mirvish Books store looked like on Nuit Blanche.|
|This still from a slow-motion video at one of the many galleries at 401 Richmond doesn't quite capture the power of the expressions of the woman's face as she's surrounded by flames.|
|This is someone looking at an interactive light installation by my friend Roger Sader at 401 Richmond.|
|These flags belonging to historic and primarily unsuccessful revolutionary movements in Latin America were assembled and repeated to form a quilt-like carpet on Stephanie Street.|
|This video installation presented the illusion of Blue Jays fans climbing the columns in front of Union Station.|
|These are videos of different waterfalls from along the Niagara Escarpment that were displayed on monitors stacked to look like a waterfall at Brookfield Place.|
|The above three images are from the Oblivion installation at Nathan Phillips Square.|
|A teeter-totter made from a cedar tree trunk at Artscape Youngplace.|
|The above two images are from the Drake Hotel on Queen Street.|