Nuit Blanche Toronto 2013
Nuit Blanche Toronto 2013 officially gets underway at 6:51pm this Saturday night, meaning if you live downtown or West Queen West, you'd better give in to the party or find somewhere in the burbs to couch surf because the all night cultural maze of Nuit Blanche is going to be all we-can't-stop until dawn-ish.
As experienced Blanchers will remember, Nuit Blanche's art installations and events are divided into "zones," which in previous years have been designated as A, B, and C, plus City Hall. This year, you're not going to know what the hell is going on, because all the zones have weirdo art names: Off to a Flying Start, Parade, and (I'm sorry) "Romancing the Anthropocene" — try texting that to your bffs while drunk at 4am as your fingers are freezing off.
There are also a ton of Independent projects that don't fall into any zone this year, mostly housed in galleries and cultural institutions across Toronto, from one lone location near the Junction to a few events up north around the Wychwood Barns to performances near Regent Park in the east. Special TTC passes are available (more info below), making getting around a little bit easier, but it's impossible for the average attendee to see everything in one night, so here is our guide to must-sees (and a few avoids) at 2013's Nuit Blanche.
Organizers have kept the main exhibition projects along the Yonge-University subway line. The TTC will be offering extended service throughout the event with the Bloor-Danforth subway line running all night from Keele to Woodbine and on the Yonge-University-Spadina line from St. Clair West to Eglinton. But, note well, the subway will be temporarily closed between 7:30am and 9am on Sunday, October 6th.
Unlike certain cities that offer their public transit for free during their version of the festival, the TTC is offering a special night pass for the price of a day pass ($10.75). More information is available here.
Share your photos of this year's event using the hashtag #NBblogTO on Instagram and we'll post the best one to the site once we get some Zzzzz's.
Forever Bicycles - Ai Weiwei
Internationally recognized artist and activist Ai Weiwei provides the centerpiece installation for this year's Nuit Blanche. The immense three dimensional structure is composed of over 3,000 interconnected bicycles. Each viewing point of the complex architecture will be a visually stunning and unique. Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen Street West (At Bay Street)
The Other Side of the Gardiner
While the Gardiner might seem like the most loathsome thing ever to happen to Toronto, it's also kind of beautiful once you open your heart to its cold, water stained, concrete charms. Abraham Galway and Lauren Poon will project light, snow and sound onto one section of the massive expressway, highlighting its vulnerabilities — and perhaps newly endearing it to a few ardent haters. Bathurst & Fort York Blvd (Located beneath the Gardiner Expressway, south of Fort York)
Garden Tower in Toronto - Tadashi Kawamata
Please do not sit on the art. Stacked chairs, benches, and garden furniture create a towering amphitheatre-shaped structure, impressive in its stature. It's intended to provide a meeting place for interaction and discussion. This could be the perfect place to make some new friends for the night. Metropolitan United Church, 56 Queen Street East (At Church Street)
1-855-IS IT ART (1-855-474-8278)
Toronto Port Lands based artists VSVSVS (versus, versus, versus) are the creators of one of Nuit Blanche's most anticipated projects: 1-855-IS IT ART is the number you can call to ask the most popular question of the night, namely, "is this thing in front of me art?" — or even, "am I the art? Oh my god, I'm the art." VSVSVS's highly trained advisors will be taking calls (toll free from anywhere), or you can visit Toronto City Hall to the performance (is it a performance?) streamed live. Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen Street West.
Swoon's The Anthropocene
Brooklyn wheatpaste artist Swoon aka Caledonia Dance Curry is a graffiti based artist, but her work has been collected by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York, and the Tate Modern, London, to name a few. Her illustration style plays with techniques you might find in old folk illustrations, updated to depict contemporary themes and extended to life size, wall devouring beauty. Swoon's paper cut outs will be displayed outdoors at the Bay Adelaide Centre, and they're not to be missed. Here's hoping the exhibit stays up for a while after Nuit Blanche. Bay Adelaide Centre, 26 Temperance Street (Adjacent to the underground parking lot entrance)
Two artists have built what amounts to a larger than life origami structure seemingly made out of paper pirate hats, as the plan for the night is that Nuit Blanche attendees will slowly dismantle the gleaming white installation over the course of the night, taking parts of it with them in the wearable form of paper hats. When you see a bunch of people walking around wearing these white paper hats, you'll know you're out during Nuit Blanche, and you'll know these particular people took part in Orbs — use that info as you wish. Expect to be trampling these underfoot amid all the rest of the Nuit Blanche litter, because how long can someone keep a silly hat on, no matter how delicate it is?
University Avenue & Armoury Street
OUR GUIDE BY ZONE
OFF TO A FLYING STARTOff to a Flying Start is the name of the Downtown Central Zone, home to 10 commissioned projects and 5 open call projects and curated to commemorate the centenary of Bicycle Wheel, Marcel Duchamp's first readymade and fascination of entry level art lovers everywhere. There are a couple of installations focused around chairs, but you won't be able to sit on either of them.
Belgium based artist Pascale Marthine Tayou will install an overwhelming sculpture made of nets and thousands of plastic bags at Bell Trinity Square. While this sculpture would be at home in Nuit Blanche's environment-themed zone, it will be an impressive component of the readymade exploring collection, where it will stand not only as a reminder of rampant consumerism but as a work of colour, wonder, and abstraction.
Bell Trinity Square, 483 Bay Street (North of Queen Street West)
The Little People
With The Little People, Work Party aims to recreate a 2012 Russian protest of election corruption: a demonstration made up of small toys. The original protest, as harmless as it may seem, was eventually banned by Russian authorities. With Russian corruption and political oppression in the news so consistently, this exhibit will resonate with many viewers. Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen Street West (At Bay Street)
Hysteria Coordinating - Sherri Hay
The basement of City Hall will be taken over by white shopping bags floating through the wind in their own performance piece. This project aims to provoke questions about how objects can affect humans and vice versa. Toronto City Hall basement, 100 Queen Street West (Enter from Bay Street door.)
Toaster Work Wagon - Kim Adams
The audience is invited to climb aboard for a ride on these mutant bicycles. They are modified to share one back wheel, and face forward in opposite directions. Riders need to negotiate who takes the lead in order to have a successful test-ride. Maybe try it out with a friend who needs an old-fashioned lesson in cooperation. Osgoode Rotunda Laneway, 361 University Avenue.
Crash Cars - Alain Declercq
This exhibit gives a new meaning to driving around in circles. Two driverless cars will auto-cruise at the same speed in two separate, but overlapping loops. Their trajectories will combine in a figure-eight shape, providing nail-biting moments each time they come close to colliding. Can't keep your eyes off an accident? How about an accident almost about to happen, for 12 consecutive hours? Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen Street West.
This carnival-inspired zone spanning University Avenue / Queen's Park aims to "create, at first glance, an unconventional parade. The floats do not move forward and the people, who would normally be stationary, become the procession by actively participating in the parade." If you read that and thought "so, it's an art exhibit?" I'm right there with you.
(X)Static Clown Factory
You know what's a good idea at two in the morning? Clowns. At University and Gerrard, depending on when you stop by, you might meet a happy, sad, greedy, goofy or "slightly nasty" (our favourite!) clown. According the the Nuit Blanche site, some passers by will even get "clownified". There will be balloons. This event is suitable for all ages, because you're never too old to develop new phobias. University Avenue & Gerrard Street West
HYBRID GLOBE - Arthur Wrigglesworth, Mohammad Mehdi Ghiyaei, Mojtaba Samimi
An outdoor polyhedral sphere will project colourful images on its many surfaces, capturing the essence of a parade. Not too sure how, but the composition and rhythm of the projections are said to change depending on the way the audience socially engages with each other. So, for the sake of art, this is your chance to chat up some good-looking artist types at five in the morning. Queens Park Crescent East & St. Joseph Street.
Ferris Wheel - Katharine Harvey
The colourful lights of Ferris Wheel fit perfectly into the Parade curated section of Nuit Blanche. Comprised of two 15-foot tall rings, their cyclical motion will create endless colour variation. It's just meant for the eyes, so don't try to hop on for a ride. University Avenue & Dundas Street West.
PARALLAX - Idea Tank Design Collective
This stationary light installation is composed of horizontally stacked tubes of various sizes. As the viewer walks down the length of the float, the diameter of the tubes shift, creating the illusion of a glittering wall of light. Up close it appears pixelated, but from a distance it becomes a cohesive image. University Avenue & Edward Street.
Music Box - John Dickson
Like a cuckoo clock, Music Box periodically pops in and out of hiding, making music when it appears. Powered by one central motor, an array of real instruments will initiate their cycles of music. The instruments feed off each other in one noisy symphony, celebrating the carnival-like atmosphere of Nuit Blanche. University Avenue & Armoury Street.
Human Sweat Generator - Warren Quigley
While the name might be a little unappealing, the concept for this project is pretty neat. A bunch of people will be pumping away on bikes, generating electricity to power a whole whack of devices. Signs will light up, sound will be broadcasted, and film will be projected all around this outdoor float. Queens Park Crescent East & Wellesley Street West.
ROMANCING THE ANTHROPOCENE
According to Wikipedia, The Anthropocene is "an informal geologic chronological term that serves to mark the evidence and extent of human activities that have had a significant global impact on the Earth's ecosystems". While making fun of this awkward zone title seems like pretty fair game, environmental issues are a hot topic in the arts today, and the Downtown South / West zone will attempt explore these themes. Don't worry though, this zone won't be all somber, buzz killing doomsaying — there's a lot of cool spacey stuff planned too.
The Soniferous Æther of The Land Beyond The Land Beyond
Berlin's Charles Stankievech shot this film installation using a computer controlled time-lapse tracking camera while participating in an artist in residency with the Canadian Forces in Nunavut (which is a thing, who knew?), and transferred it to 35mm film. The military outpost filmed over time seems abandoned, "and easily mistaken for an extraterrestrial frontier". Look for Agent Mulder looming in the shadows. First Canadian Place, 100 King Street West.
Another spacey exhibit: Kelly Richardson's Mariner 9 is a massive 12-metre-long view of a Martian landscape created using scenery-generation software as well as technical data from NASA's missions to Mars. Yeah, pretty cool. This video installation will hint at subtle signs of life amid the scattered remains of wrecked spacecrafts. Commerce Court, 25 King Street West (East of Bay Street.)
Howl sounds like good fun: a coyote-on-rabbit chase will loop along steel "roller coaster" rails, bringing up memories of joyful childhood cartoons and adult dog track devastation. Robert Hengeveld's campy kinetic structure will also include dancing mechanical birds and deer. Bay Street & Richmond Street West (Enter alley from Richmond Street or Temperance Street, west of Bay Street).
Another installation which could be straight out of an early X-Files episode, performance artist Simon Frank will cover himself in burs and walk around the Financial District. He was inspired by an annual tradition from a small town near his birthplace in Scotland known as "Burryman." Creepy and wonderful, if you see Frank maybe pass on giving him a high five. Roaming project, 221 King Street West.
Night Shift - Brendan Fernandes
Think you're gonna be tired walking around Toronto all night? Try dancing. From dusk 'til dawn, these performers will re-enact an ancient dance meant to call upon the sun. Throughout the night, dancers will be making piles of gold confetti. At the break of dawn they will throw it into the air, signifying the start of a new day. Take it as your signal to start looking for breakfast. Bay Adelaide Centre, 333 Bay Street (Accessible from Temperance Street).
Shrine - John Notten
Garbage bins might seem like an unlikely building block, but in this project they will stack perfectly into the shape of a Gothic Cathedral. It's even be complete with a stained glass ceiling to gaze up at. Here's to hoping the bins were cleaned first. 21 Jordan Street.
Smoke House - The Everything House, Jason Gowans, Simon Benedict, Michael Love
Three bicycles power a large-scale cedar smoking hut. Participants are invited to pedal throughout the night, helping to keep the salmon smoking. Come morning, the artists will be serving up the smoked fish. Yum? Richmond-Adelaide Centre, 111 Richmond Street West.
A good Nuit Blanche experience is all about discovering hidden gems, which are often found among the independent projects which are not curated by Nuit Blanche itself, and take you further afield. While stumbling upon a favorite exhibit by accident will always hold a thrill, here are our picks.
Word to the wise: look out for this scary thing that might hug you. Coral Short will be wearing a costume made of stuffed animals and wandering the streets as a performance piece which "touches on furry culture and toy sculptural drag, but also reminds us of childhood innocence." It might also touch you. Metro Hall, 55 John Street & King Street West (Roaming)
Your Temper, My Weather - Diane Borsato
From 7pm until midnight, 100 fully decked out beekeepers will participate in a massive collective meditation. It will provide an interesting visual, but if you are looking for action, this probably isn't the exhibit for you. Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas Street West.
Films at TIFF Bell Lightbox
TIFF has tons of programming planned at the Bell Lightbox, which is good news for people who like to sit down. Films by Toronto artists screening during Nuit Blanche include looped visual installation VHS Fever Dreams; CRINGEWORTHY! The Best of the Worst Videos Online, a selection of found footage, videoblogs and rants, music videos, and commercials; interactive screening In Sequence, Strange Science/City Symphonies - Silent Films with LIVE Instrumental Accompaniment; 12 hour long 12; and water themed doc Watermark. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King Street West
My Virtual Dream - My Virtual Dream Team
The Virtual Brain is a computer model designed to give clinicians information for treating and diagnosing brain disorders. At this exhibit you can send your own wireless brain signals to the Virtual Brain through provided headsets. A 60-foot dome will display a panorama of colours, images, sounds, and music co-created by you and hundreds of other participants. Cool. Outside the Leslie L. Dan Faculty of Pharmacy Building, 144 College Street.
There is an elephant in the truck - Laurence Vallières
The name kind of says it all for this one. A cardboard sculpture of an elephant's head will appear to be emerging from the back end of a white cube truck. It gives the illusion that the elephant is too big for the truck. How confusing. Queen's Park Crescent East & Grosvenor Street (Located near the food trucks in the Scotiabank Nuit Blanche hospitality area.)
Built for ART
401 Richmond is a hub of art galleries, studios, and general activity, but this year the exhibit is all about the building itself. Like a treasure hunt for art, look for hidden gems in 401's courtyards, loading docks and the basement as well as in the galleries. 401 Richmond Street West
The City of Gears
This installation at Robert Kananaj Gallery marks Nuit Blanche's furthest tendril west. Toronto artist Mike Parsons works with comic books, animations and public works to investigate the "monstrous metropolis". You can preview it on his website and it looks to be pretty cool. Robert Kananaj Gallery, 1267 Bloor Street West (At Lansdowne)
ECO NUIT PARADE - Jennifer Willet, Ana Klasnja
University students have made their science into a parade of art. The numerous bioart projects will depart from their CAMH home base at 9pm, 1am, and 5am. You'll be able to join in with the costumed artists and performers, and illuminate a collection of living organisms using digital media and phosphorescence. CAMH - Queen Street West - Front Lawn, 1001 Queen Street West, 416.
The n Games
Toronto's museum of contemporary art will host one of Nuit Blanche's sportiest exhibits. Led by Vancouver collective League, who "gather to play invented games and sports as a form of creative problem-solving," MOCCA will host an interactive tournament of invented sports and skill testing games. This will be the piece to hit up when you need a rush of adrenaline.
MOCCA, 952 Queen Street West (Find us in the courtyard in front of MOCCA)
Dreaming the Luminous Numinous
This Regent Park interactive installation may be a bit east of most exhibits, but between contributors ArtHeart, Regent Park School of Music, Regent Park Film Festival, Native Earth Performing Arts, Collective of Black Artists, and Centre for Social Innovation, promises something for everything. Performances will last all night, so if you're feeling timid about exploring with the teaming masses, here's one idea to keep you entertained that doesn't require event hopping. Artscape Daniels Spectrum: A cultural hub in Regent Park, 585 Dundas Street East.
Drift : Synthesis - Marcin Ignac, Lorenzo Oggiano
These two artists come together in exploring the complex relationship between biological and synthetic forms. A series of short video clips will feature beautiful, yet impossible organisms created through 3D modelling. This exhibit is for the commuters, as the videos will be played on subway platform screens throughout the city. 300+ TTC subway platform screens across Toronto Yonge & Bloor.
Various at Artscape Wychwood Barns
Nuit Blanche's northmost point will host an interactive chess set made of recycled materials, an adorable sounding karaoke machine connected to a flame tube which "allows the fire to dance to your voice", and Lawton Hall's nightlong multimedia installation "This Place is No Place." The Barns and their surrounding tiny gardens are a bit of an installation piece themselves, so if you haven't been up to Wychwood to check them out yet, this could be your night. It also promises to be quieter than the general fray. 601 Christie Street.
With contributions from Julia Stead