LuminaTO 2008

Luminato: Visual Arts Round-up

June seems to be the month of choice for festival organizers looking to capitalize on our all-too-brief summer, and Luminato is one that really stood out last year. We were treated to a wealth of free visual arts spread about the city from the giant, building-sized art and a wide variety of suspended installations (my first piece with blogTO) to the spectacular beacons of light at Harbourfront that responded to your pulse (shown above).

This Friday, Luminato will kick off again. This year, they've stepped up the dance and performance-related events, and there's noticeably fewer public art installations. Either way, there's some interesting venues to check out at the festival. Keep reading for my picks.

  • The highlight of this year's festival seems to be going down at Yonge-Dundas (sic) Square, where hundreds of freaky glowing eyeball-like orbs will hover over the square. That alone doesn't sound too compelling, but the cool part is that they'll respond to movement and sound of the crowd below. (Those dance lessons will be likely be quite the sight to see)

  • Acclaimed choreographer William Forsythe is putting together a "City of Abstracts" truck that will travel around the city, distorting images of pedestrians and locations that it passes, encouraging people to become "impromptu choreographers". Hopefully this won't be mistaken for those equally flashy mobile ad trucks.

  • Joni Mitchell (yeah, that Joni Mitchell) will bring her visual artist skills to the table to make some "dark ironies" and socio-political commentary on the "nightmarish themes of death and destruction" using triptych canvases. Bet you didn't see that one coming.

  • Waterfront Toronto is sponsoring a series of events with the AGO that are set to take on Regent Park and the Jarvis and Parliament Strips to re-imagine a post-industrial TO waterfront. Notable events include ten miniature houses being painted by local artists (including EGR, once profiled here on blogTO) and artist/sell-out Fauxreel postering up Regent Park.

Luminato has a full listing of visual arts events and more at their site.

It's hard to match the dramatic impact of Pulsefront from last year. Participants would grip handles at Harbourfront, and giant, high-powered spotlights would beam their pulses into the sky. It brought people from all over the GTA downtown to see what all the fuss was about, and was certainly the highlight of the festival.

A lot of the criticism of last year's festival was aimed squarely at the lack of cohesion among all the events. What the organizers appear to be doing this year is attempting to mash-up the various types of events that we saw last year to achieve more of that cohesive artistic viewpoint.

I can say however that I was slightly disappointed when I reviewed the line-up for this year's festival. Too much performance art, and not enough installations that the audience could participate in. In any case, blogTO will be out at a slew of Luminato events, and we'll be sure to let you know what's worth checking out.

Photo by Somewhere in Toronto from the blogTO Flickr Pool.

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