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Nuit Blanche Toronto 2012

Posted by Kate Fane / September 25, 2012

Nuit Blanche Toronto 2012Nuit Blanche 2012 lands in Toronto this weekend, ready to transform the city into a giant late-night contemporary art gallery, with daring and largely interactive work displayed throughout the downtown core. Yes, it's Nuit Blanche, and love it or hate it, it's coming to your front door.

Now entering its seventh year, Nuit Blanche has become increasingly divisive for its corporate presence and curatorial choices. Whatever your stance on the festival, it's clear that this year will be offering up some truly exciting installations over its three zones. Half the fun is stumbling upon work yourself, but if you'd like to catch the highlights before the usual swarms of teenagers and drunks take over, we've come up with a list of sure things.

Here are 20 exhibits we think you should have an eye on. For practical information regarding the hours of the event (hint: it starts at sundown which is just after 7pm), transportation, the official mobile app website, etc., please consult the City of Toronto's Nuit Blanche information pages and the main Nuit Blanche website.

Nuit Blanche Toronto 2012We've already discussed the marquee exhibit at Nathan Phillips Square in some depth, so have a look at our chat with curators Janine Marchessault and Michael Prokopow for more information on Museum for the End of the World.

416-788-9663 - Geoffrey Pugen
Geoffrey Pugen played a game of tennis for Nuit Blanche last year, and he keeps up with the theatrics by recreating a Toronto dance party from 1994. In a putatively secret location, no less. While the interactive nature of the installation sounds low, I was already sold when I heard "secret location" (even though I can guarantee you it'll be relatively easy to find). Somewhere around City Hall (outdoors).

Quasar 2.0: Star Incubator (Q2:SI) - Jean Michel Crettaz & Mark-David Hosale
Light installations are often some of the best exhibits at Nuit Blanche, and this one certainly sounds promising (and wonderfully weird in that cosmic sense). Case in point: "The installation's life-form is comprised of several converging real-time data streams: local infrared and electromagnetic fields, and external oceanic temperature, solar weather, and weather data collected at the Antarctica Weather station. A local information screen provides tangible date sourcing and processing of the multiple inputs." Okay, sold! Toronto City Hall underground parking garage

Symposium - Until the End of the World
If your idea of a fun Nuit Blanche is hanging around grad students immersed in literary and cultural theory, this is for you! Yes, Slavoj Žižek will be there, as well as Arthur Kroker and Brenda Longfellow. The subject matter should be vertiginous with philosophical potential — we are talking about the end of the world here — so maybe make a stop here at some point in the night. Remember, it's always nice to get warm! City Hall Council Chambers.

Nuit Blanche Toronto 2012Cent une tueries de zombies - Michael Lane and Colin Geddes
If you've been working on your Zombie Apocalypse strategy, TIFF Lightbox has just the installation to help you fine tune it. Lane and Geddes' piece is a looped video compilation of 101 zombie death scenes culled from cinema and television. And with admittance restricted to those 18 years of age or older, it'll surely be suitably gory. TIFF Lightbox

Tower of Progress - Laurent Gagnon
Designed as a "monument to the present," the tower is a 16-foot obelisk composed of metal parts of discarded and outdated technology. Combining everything from sewing machines, typewriters, and cash registers, the structure is an ever-growing testament to our materialist concept of progress. Scotia Plaza, South Forecourt, 40 King Street West

+city - Faisal Anwar and Siobhan O'Flynn
Integrating Nuit Blanche's dual physical and virtual existences, Second City performers and "celebrity guests" will take live Twitter suggestions as inspiration for their improv comedy performance. Hastags are #snbTO and #pluscityTO. Metro Hall, Rotunda, 55 John Street (Best access from King Street West or Wellington Street West)

The Institute of Knots - Swapnaa Tamhane
If you're feeling sadistic, visit the MOCCA for this interactive installation, which encourages participants to tie as many knots as they choose, all of which will later be untied by the artist in "a work that attempts to explore frustration, futility, and humour." Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art.

LEITMOTIF: Hands on the Van - Jon Sasaki
Or maybe you're more the masochistic type? In Parkdale, Jon Sasaki invites participants to compete for his $500 artist's fee in an old-fashioned "keep your hands on the van contest." As the evening's traditionally frigid temperatures will probably limit your competition, the prospect may prove appealing. Queen Street West & Brock Avenue

Fun House - Tom Sokoloski
Yes, Nuit Blanche gets more and more corporate each passing year. But Tom Sokoloski's Chevrolet-sponsored "Fun House" still sounds like a great ride. For this interactive performance art installation, inspired by carnival fun houses, participants can board cars every five minutes to tour through otherworldly and distorted spaces. Bay Street & Adelaide Street West (To participate, enter at Bay Street and Temperance Street)

Nuit Blanche 2012 TorontoAll Together Now, 2012 - Jeanne Holmes
Wanna dance? If you're one of those people who thinks that Nuit Blanche is still taken too seriously, this could be a good one to check out. In keeping with the idea that the whole night is one big spectacle, this exhibit will teach the masses how to dance in a whole variety of styles. Check the link at the top for a breakdown of exactly what's on offer at what time. Richmond Adelaide Centre

Flat Space - Peter Bowyer
Sometimes Nuit Blanche Exhibits are just cool, and that's what I expect from Peter Bowyer's Flat Space. A huge "optical structure" that'll be located at Queen and Bay streets, the installation is meant to function as something of an alternate dimension. So, in other words, watch out for the stoners that are going to flock to this one. "It's like it's eating reality, man." Or something like that. Outside old City Hall.

Pair - Neil Campbell
Also a potential mind bender is Neil Campbell's Pair, two sculptures that have been designed to challenge our perception of both the objects in question and the space that surrounds them. The photo makes it look rather underwhelming, but if these two testicles (that's kinda what they look like) can actually change my perception of space, I'm all for it. 361 University Avenue (Walkway between Osgoode Hall and the University Avenue Courthouse)

Nuit Blanche Toronto 2012Planes - Trisha Brown Dance Company
In "Planes", a restaging of choreographer Trisha Brown's 1968 "equipment piece", dancers will scale a 13 x 21 foot wall against the backdrop of a 16mm film by Jud Yalkut and a soundtrack of a vacuum cleaner by Simone Forti. Fighting against both gravity and vertigo, they'll roll and climb across the building's exterior in what's sure to be a riveting performance. Dundee Place, 1 Adelaide Street East

Earth-Moon-Earth (Moonlight Sonata Reflected from the Surface of the Moon) - Katie Paterson
Based on Guglielmo Marconi's suggestion that sounds never die, but continue to reverberate as sound waves around the universe, Katie Paterson's player piano will play Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata as it sounds by way of the moon. To create the slightly-mangled version, Morse code messages of the composition were sent to the moon, reflected on its surface, and received back on earth, with some notes apparently 'lost' en route. Elgin Theatre, 160 Victoria Street

Thought Balloon - Brian Cauley
It may claim to be suitable for all ages now, but I've got a feeling that Brian Cauley's "Thought Balloon" might quickly spiral out of control. Participants can write whatever they choose onto typewriters and project their words onto the surface of large, glowing balloons, in a piece that "examines how the urban fabric both enables and disables social encounters." Alleyway, 132 Church Street (South of Queen Street East)

The Day After, Tomorrow - Dave Dyment
Some men just want to watch the world burn. And some men will have the opportunity with Dave Dyment's "The Day After, Tomorrow." Earthquakes, fires, floods, meteors, air attacks and other doomsday scenarios will play on a number video monitors, and will be charted geography so viewers may see the entire world destroyed simultaneously. King James Place, 145 King Street East

Top Down - BRDGlab
BRDGlab, a collective of architecture students, will reduce and reinterpret the city's topography with the outdoor installation "Top down". Viewers are invited to walk through their artificial cityscape, and contemplate Toronto from an entirely new perspective. 80 Church Street

Body Xerox - Simon Denny and Yngve Holen
Of course, Nuit Blanche's late hours and pulsing creative energy also make for a damn good party. This year's best bet is "Body Xerox," in which international DJ's Craxxxmurf and Baglady will host a rave in a repurposed office environment. Photocopiers will function as the event's lighting, while also spewing paper around the dance floor. It may not be the most environmentally-friendly art project, but it sounds like it may be the most fun. Body Xerox was started in 2009 in Frankfurt am Main by Berlin-based artists Simon Denny and Yngve Holen, and has since taken place in Berlin, Milan, Rotterdam and Los Angeles, with Nuit Blanche marking its largest version yet. King Street East & Toronto Street


Naturally, we'll have team members wandering all over the city on the big night, but we'd love to make your experiences a part of our coverage as well. Here are a couple of ways that you can participate:


Lately we've been really active on Instagram, and we plan on keeping up the trend throughout Nuit Blanche, so follow us on Instagram for updates about which exhibits are worth hitting up and which you can skip. We'd love to feature your stuff, too! If you'd like your photos shared by us and considered for inclusion in a post-event roundup, please add the hashtag #blogTO (along with #snbTO or whatever tag you're using for the event itself) so we can easily find them.


If you're out shooting with your DSLR during Nuit Blanche, please consider adding your photos to the blogTO Flickr pool. Our photo roundup on Sunday afternoon is always an extremely popular post, so lots of eyes will be on your work (obviously we credit all photos to their source).

Writing by Kate Fane and Derek Flack



Jer / September 25, 2012 at 03:26 pm
Thanks for this, so many spots it can get a bit overwhelming but I appreciate your views on things. Nice to have a balance between "oh yeah, this is that project" vs. being totally surprised.
whee / September 25, 2012 at 03:50 pm
opensource1111 / September 25, 2012 at 03:51 pm
Looking forward to going this year, as I have skipped the past 2 years. However, I remember many comments from people who attended last year about the drunken teens - anyone remember where the hot spots for these were? Would like to avoid these if possible.
Sam replying to a comment from opensource1111 / September 25, 2012 at 04:21 pm
Everywhere. I stopped doing Nuit Blanche 5 years ago when 9/10 people was either a drunken frat kid or a stroller pushing soccer mom.
14 and wasted / September 25, 2012 at 04:23 pm
Yeeeeeeeees I can't wait to get smashed at this and be an ass to everyone w00t w00t! Last year I pissed on one of the exhibits, maybe I'll go for a #2 this year lol!
15 and wasted / September 25, 2012 at 04:24 pm
OMG YEAAA! gonna so #yolo this shit.
Dmitri / September 25, 2012 at 04:57 pm
After four years of consecutive disappointment, I don't think I will be doing this event anymore.
Alex replying to a comment from Dmitri / September 25, 2012 at 05:15 pm
Ditto! I go, seemingly to wait in lines and be disappointed. No more of that, I'll settle in to bed with a movie and some wine
BH / September 25, 2012 at 06:51 pm
If I want to stand in a long line and gawk at the drunken freaks I'll go to the local Wal-Mart. Last time I want was 3 years ago and it was barely tolerable then. Nuit Blanche is a victim of its own success.

gregory / September 25, 2012 at 07:12 pm
they need to do this in the summer.
TDJ replying to a comment from Sam / September 25, 2012 at 09:03 pm
Yeah Sam... how dare soccer moms who live in and around those zones dare venture out of their houses and enjoy art that's obviously there solely for the hip crowd. What an ass. God forbid seniors or kids attempt to enjoy some culture; that would totally ruin the experience.
hipstersgoaway replying to a comment from Sam / September 25, 2012 at 10:05 pm
silly hipster!
Paul / September 25, 2012 at 10:15 pm
Thought Balloon looks soooooo cool.
Ratpick replying to a comment from Sam / September 26, 2012 at 08:57 am
"Everywhere. I stopped doing Nuit Blanche 5 years ago when 9/10 people was either a drunken frat kid or a stroller pushing soccer mom"

Sorry to hear that the people were not Sam-approved types.
Your Johnson / September 26, 2012 at 10:59 am
I will be there, coked to the gills, spray painting gang tags on everything.
elizabeth / September 26, 2012 at 11:46 am
Thanks for the starter list; time to figure out how to make the most of the night. Inevitably it is a mixed bag of exhibits, some immediately forgettable, some memory keepers, but to dismiss the entire night seems like a mistake if you are interested in art, the creative process, seeing a familiar location in a new way, etc. I hate crowds, but work around that because I have always come home with a few exhibits that stay with me for one reason or another. For those who live close enough to the event, definitely take advantage of the pre-dawn hours, when the lines have disappeared and the artists are still there, groggy and over-caffeinated, but committed to sharing their work with you.
Julie / September 26, 2012 at 12:07 pm
Where is the app for android blackberry and iphone?
Julie / September 26, 2012 at 12:08 pm
Last time I could find the app?
jer / September 26, 2012 at 12:32 pm
There is no app for any device this year. Only mobile website. It is suppose to be "enhanced" with GPS, etc . Hopefully it is better than the apps from last year, I heard they crashed a lot lost year.
opensource1111 / September 26, 2012 at 12:44 pm
ok. Drunken teens be damned, I am still going out and enjoying the art! haha.
opensource1111 / September 26, 2012 at 12:49 pm
One positive about drunken or high people is that they are not at their sharpest, so if they really get annoying, you can lure them into an alley and beat the crap out of them with a bike lock.
Durp Durp replying to a comment from Sam / September 26, 2012 at 12:51 pm
You know what pisses me off even more than that? Retarded people and their f#cking wheelchairs! Like why can't they just leave that shit at home? Or better yet, just remove themselves from society completely so I can better enjoy it. Selfish assholes.
GETOVERIT replying to a comment from Alex / September 26, 2012 at 07:09 pm
Were you rejected by a frat?
Ken replying to a comment from Julie / September 26, 2012 at 11:28 pm
If the mobile website doesn't work out, feel free to give my unofficial app a try. Good for Android, BlackBerry and iPhone. You can get it here:
YY / September 27, 2012 at 11:35 am
If you don't want to wait in line and don't like drunk teenagers, start around 1 am. That is usually my strategy and it has worked for the past 3 years.
M. Johnson / September 27, 2012 at 07:06 pm
I'm really stoked on Street Language, myself... Saturday, September 29th at Red Bull 381 Projects (381 Queen Street West).
logan replying to a comment from elizabeth / September 29, 2012 at 12:29 am
it's nice to hear some positivity..I've been so anxious the last few times..I became negative..but I KNOW that the artists have best intentions..I hope i can get beyond my own issues about it this year, and just have fun.
lady replying to a comment from elizabeth / September 29, 2012 at 10:43 am
Well said. Keep your minds open people!
nicole replying to a comment from Sam / September 29, 2012 at 11:01 am
Surprise! Another mouthpiece for the new guard homogeneity: beard-faced, plaid-shirted, skinny-jeaned, faux-old-timey twats. It's time you build yourselves a gated community and just die out already, because as your people are so eager to point out in comment threads, you hate kids (and therefore won't procreate). Please, pleeeeeze let that be true.
Patrick's mom replying to a comment from elizabeth / September 29, 2012 at 12:41 pm
Logan & Elizabeth. I'm with you. Be positive. A good number of people have worked hard to get this going and give their best for art. Be there to enjoy and appreciate. If there's a line, go somewhere else. Come back later.
It would be wonderful if the people who are determined to ruin the event for their own selfish reasons get the true idea, or stay away from the events. It's one day out of 366 this year. Be a good audience/viewer/participant. Respect yourself and others. Make it enjoyable for everyone.
Kevin / September 29, 2012 at 05:28 pm
For those people that keep complaining about nuit blanche yes it is about the art but it's also about getting together with your friends and really trying something new. Since everybody is so busy with their own lives we hardly get together anymore with other people.
Michelle / September 29, 2012 at 05:51 pm
Toronto, are you trying to be New York again? This is just giant advertisement for Scotiabank that draws hipters (followers) to amateur art.
paul / September 29, 2012 at 06:07 pm
is there no map ?
G.G. / September 30, 2012 at 01:55 am
My experience with Nuit Blanche excuse for drunken hordes to descend on the city.
nicole replying to a comment from Michelle / October 1, 2012 at 02:54 pm
Actually, we're trying to be Paris. Get your cities of origin right.
Gigi / October 15, 2012 at 08:58 pm
this event has turned into another Corporate expose!
krone / September 26, 2013 at 08:56 am
krone / September 26, 2013 at 08:56 am
Other Cities: Montreal