Nuit Blanche 2014

The top 30 exhibits to check out at Nuit Blanche 2014

Nuit Blanche 2014 arrives in Toronto this Saturday for its 8th year, as the once-raging battle between supporters and nay-sayers fades out and we come to understand that the core of the all night festival's identity will, much like art itself, never mean the same thing to everyone. The waitress at the all night diner might see blood at 6am, but that doesn't make the stars in your eyes less real.

Most of us have made up our minds about the 7pm to 7am multi-zone art party by now, and the chatter about whether it's art or simply entertainment has given way to chatter about which bars have 4AM last call, restaurants will be open late, and who's tweeting the best finds and overheards (we'll try our best).

The free, darkness-cloaked festival which not one but two mayoral candidates described as their most transformative art experience ever during Monday's Artsvote debate (did no one else read Vonnegut at 15?) has once again been divided into names I can't help giggling at, and now includes a forth zone at Fort York, where many a happy concert memory was made this year.

While the fun of the fest is often found in wandering at random, I've waded through the art-speak on the Nuit Blanche website to give you some pointers on what to see and avoid based on temperament. Brush up on where to be on Saturday below, and don't worry about over-planning - there will still be some surprises in store, especially with the usual huge array of independent projects at the AGO, Ryerson, OCAD, TIFF, Wychwood Barns, and galleries and street corners across the city.

If you've been feeling like Toronto is an ever-expanding void of culture and fun, just remember - we're richer than you think. (If Scotiabank's NB itself suggests the above or you just can't handle the risk of toilet paper art, look out for our upcoming fall art show preview.)

Nuit Blanche


TTC is extended to 7AM on Sunday, October 5 on the Line 2, Bloor-Danforth subway from Keele to Woodbine and on Line 1, Yonge-University-Spadina from St. Clair West to Eglinton stations. There will be no subway service at all from 7-9AM.

TTC commuter parking lots will be free, and a magic "Special Event Souvenir TTC Day Pass" will available for $11 which "allows a single customer or a family/group of customers (up to six people, maximum two adults and four children/youths 19 years of age or under) to pay one low price for unlimited travel on all regular TTC service. It's valid for travel from the start of service Saturday, October 4 until 9 a.m. on Sunday, October 5." The GO train will be running extra trains.

Portions of the following streets will experience closures: Queen St West (4 p.m. to 8 a.m.), Spadina Avenue (3 p.m. to 9 a.m.), Bathurst Street (4 p.m. to 5 a.m.), Fort York Boulevard (6 p.m. to 8 a.m.) and Bremner Boulevard (6 p.m. to 8 a.m.).


Nuit Blanche's mobile site can be accessed here. You can create an account and plot your journey with their night planner if your friends have elected you as this year's hyper organized Blancher.


Nuit Blanche 2014

ZONE: The possibility of everything
Where: Chinatown/Queen West
Who wants to be there: Fans of participatory art and activism, screamers and dreamers.
Parameters: Spadina Avenue between College Street and Queen Street West and along Queen Street West between University Avenue and Spadina Avenue.

Global Rainbow
Yvette Mattern (New York / Berlin)'s light installation will be hard to miss. A rainbow with the potential to reach "a trajectory of up to 60 km" will beam from Chinatown to the CN Tower all night long. Make a real wish on a synthetic rainbow Saturday night, but beware the TTC Leprechaun at the other end.

Screaming Booth
City dwellers often develop romantic notions about simpler locales - countrysides whose residents go around in fields and hilltops screaming just because they can. I haven't observed this in my rural adventures, but the sentiment is likely more important here. Frustrated? Madly in love? Terrified of the future? All of the above? Handy screaming booths by Chélanie Beaudin-Quintin (Montreal) will be at 280 Spadina Ave, 290 Queen St West, and 180 Spadina Ave. Need to scream post Nuit? Find one at Nathan Phillips Square October 5-13.

Walk among Worlds
Apologies to Máximo González (Mexico City) for the total lack of respect I'm about to show, but I'm excited to see these 7,000 global maps printed on beach balls not because I plan to mull the world's haves and have-nots, but because at events like Nuit Blanche I'm a sucker for installations that overwhelm with sheer mass. But, you can impress your pals by explaining that each ball represents one million people, and the big balls are the first world countries (us!). 33 Phoebe Street (East of Spadina Avenue).

By Means of a Sigh
Chloé Lefebvre and Jean Dubois (Montréal) are getting a little sexy with this bubble blowing video installation, and so can you - call a number and breathe into your phone to see your bubblegum fantasy grow against that of someone else. The project's digits might not be the only number getting exchanged at its 215 Spadina location.

Get lost in AMAZE (a maze, get it), an installation which especially shows promise to me because Marcos Zotes is from Reykjavik, Iceland, and I'm a bit biased about Scandinavian design. The scaffolding and fabric might not be as terrifying a labyrinth to conquer as IKEA, but you can hunt the Goblin King at 302 Queen St West (At Soho) where you'll have twelve, not thirteen hours, before your baby brother becomes one of us... forever.

Nuit Blanche 2014

ZONE: Performance Anxiety
Where: Toronto City Hall/Nathan Phillips Square.
Who wants to be there: no-wavers, Marina Abramović fans, Fringe play-writes, one-stop Nuit Blanchers.

Do you think a disease is going to wipe out society? Something sure better, or I'm going to ask the guy at the comic book store for my money back. Shasti O'Leary-Soudant (Buffalo) will dispense a glowing virus (not on your new iPhone, don't worry) to one hundred participants, who will cause some sort of trouble climaxing in a "mass Quarantine and Cure event, occurring between Midnight and 1AM." Spoiler: we're all dead by sunrise. Just kidding.

Dress Rehearsal
Tor Lukasik-Foss (Hamilton) will put human figures in shadow boxes under the loading dock beneath Toronto City Hall, which during normal circumstances would sound pretty sketchy. Some of these people will be ghosts, but not the sketchy ghosts of Toronto's secret under belly (they take Nuit Blanche off) - just ghosts from his projector. Some of the shadows, however, will be living captors. You won't know the difference unless you happen to tell a really funny joke and one of them laughs. Sketchy.

My least favourite NB project title, but at least no one imported a certain Apple-savvy band to curate a zone called U2-Topia (maybe once we're really Music City). Toronto's own Vertical City will let you lie back and watch someone tear themselves apart via torturous climbing, climbing, and more climbing on decaying scaffolding - the painful empathy you feel will be the poetic version of watching the Blanchers who misguidedly wore their club shoes hobbling down Queen at 4AM.

Split Chorale for Viljo Revell
Here's one for Drone Day hangers-on: LA's Kathryn Andrews and Scott Benzel will install video inspired by Toronto's City Hall's nick-name "The Eye of the Government," which I have never heard in reference to the building until today. I'm just in this for the "marathon drone" choir - anyone want to do a piggyback show at Array Sunday aft?

Wanwu: Metamorphosis
Not sure what to call your festival application? How about Metamorphosis. Sometimes the easy answer is the best one, and sometimes the best answer is to make sure no one is sure if you're going to paint all of City Hall green (unlikely considering the Fords' town-wide red paint job) or just making and dissolving some paintings a few times over the course of the night on the rooftop garden. Bingyi (Beijing)'s website is actually pretty cool.

Nuit Blanche 2014

ZONE: The Night Circus
Where: Roundhouse Park/Bremner Blvd
Who wants to be there: Anyone who wishes they could wear fairy wings to work, everyone who does, Improv Everywhere enthusiasts.
Parameters: Bremner Boulevard between York Street and Spadina Avenue and along Spadina Avenue between Wellington Street West and Bremner Boulevard.

The Fortune-Teller Machine - Zardoz
A coven of real witches have been booked at Bremner Boulevard & Navy Wharf Court for Nuit Blanche, because productions of Macbeth are fewer and far between these days. FASTWURMS will tell your fortune with "divination tools, including crystal balls, tarot cards and astrology" meaning you don't have to go to Mississauga for the Psychic Fair this weekend (do both if you can, though). These real witches are suitable for all ages.

The Melodious Malfeasance Meat-Grinding Machine,
Suitable for all ages but not for vegetarians, this musical organ grinder at Renaissance Toronto Downtown Hotel Parkette by Dana Sherwood (New York) will be half "gypsy caravan" (their words), half Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Or Animal Farm? I always mix those two up. A good find for the night's gross-out hunters and horror fans.

Big Top Grand Stand
Why are artists obsessed with the circus? Most of us who dream of running away and becoming big name jugglers on the carnival circuit gave those fantasies up the first time a real carnie at the Ex flicked a cigarette our way. SuttonBeresCuller (Seattle) were never so unlucky, and the group's humungous and colourful homage to all things circus will top a 16' flatbed trailer at Clarence Square Park.

Early Morning Opera's HOLOSCENES looks like it will basically be an opp to watch a rotating cast of performers doing synchronized swimming - alone, in a bubble. Or almost drowning. As a lousy swimmer who longs for the unknown depths, this exhibit at Roundhouse Park looks to me like it could be rather lovely.

Part dance, part acrobatic display, find this teaming mass of bodies at The Globe and Mail Press Hall (425 Wellington St West). Warning: high possibilities of body odor. Or bonus, depending on what you're hunting for.

Nuit Blanche 2014

ZONE: Before Day Break
Where: Fort York
Who wants to be there: Philosophy students, TIFF nerds, people who push their glasses up their nose when they're not wearing glasses.
Parameters: Fort York along Fort York Boulevard between Spadina Avenue and Strachan Avenue.

In this video-heavy zone, Vasco Araújo (Lisbon)'s Telos reminds us of the quest of of Diogenes of Sinope AKA "The Cynic," whom I'd like to think I relate to. It screens outdoors at 100 Garrison Road.

Open Mind
Another maze, or just a place to think? Yoan Capote (Pinar del Rio)'s walkable sculpture in the shape of a brain at Canoe Landing Park will be a great place to ponder essential questions like am I hungry?, should I change my hair?, is it possible to overcome our animal nature through art alone?, Where are my friends? And so forth.

Bright Bundle
Toronto's Bruno Billio might have my favourite NB installation: a 1000 metre string of LED lights! I'm the person buying the Christmas decorations at Goodwill in July Majesty.

Conga Irreversible
Remember the cardboard beach? Los Carpinteros (Havana / Madrid) are back with this video installation which will be pleasing for jazz and conga fans, contemporary dance seekers, and anyone who liked the backwards talking in Twin Peaks.

Melting Point
Nuit Blanche is a night-time deal, so I'm partial to the light installations, especially if I'm seeing double by midnight (don't mind my flask). Find me staggering around this Toronto-made light and sound installation by the cannons, rambling about how incredibly transformative it was to read art-speak so thick I could not discern the true nature of some NB projects beyond "sparkle potential: high."

Nuit Blanche 2014

SPECIAL: Special Projects
Where: Wherever Nuit Blanche's sponsors set them up.
Who wants to be there: PR marketers, artists who want edgy corporate gigs, optimists.

Lizz Aston's installation at H&M weaves "recycled garments from H&M's Garment Collecting initiative" into a massive outdoor lace installation on Queen (in front of H&M, naturally), because H&M wants you to know they have a Garment Collecting initiative. How do you feel about a fast fashion leader hosting an exhibit about fast fashion? Worth talking about. Bonus: look for José Andrés Mora's Solar Dehydrator at Roundhouse Park.

Nuit Blanche 2014

INDIE: Independent Projects
Where: City wide.
Who wants to be there: Cautiously curious haters, art bloggers, party seekers, self styled disciples of all things indie.
Parameters: From the AGO to small galleries, street and bar installations from downtown to the Gladstone Hotel and participating venues including Wychwood Barns, TIFF Bell Lightbox, 401 Richmond, Spadina Museum, Ryerson, OCAD, Artscape Youngplace.

Out of Site
Out of Site is back on Queen West, from Simcoe Street to Bathurst Street. Eight artists have contributed to the Queen Street West BIA sanctioned exhibits which will range from video installations to performance.

Safe Space
The Drake might very well be hosting Saturday's best party. Find animated gifs, video art, a performance by Ghost Hole's Vanessa Bee Rieger, live bands including Petra Glynt, Pale Eyes, Doomsquard, and ZONES, a selfie station (okay, enough of these already), and much more at the Hotel and Underground, plus more programming at Drake Lab and Drake One Fifty. Bonus: the Gladstone Hotel will also host its expected NB total takeover.

More independent highlights


We're thrilled to be partnering with the City of Toronto on the official Scotiabank Nuit Blanche photo contest. Tag your best pics from the night with #snbTOBlogTO on Instagram anytime between October 4th to 12th, and you could win! Not on Instagram? Just upload the photos directly to our Scotiabank Nuit Blanche stream.

We'll be giving away prizes to three lucky winners:

  • 1st place: $500 gift certificate to Henry's Camera
  • 2nd place: $100 gift certificate to Henry's Camera
  • 3rd place: $50 gift certificate to Henry's Camera

Rules and Regs: By submitting photos to this contest you agree to allow blogTO, the City of Toronto and its partners to feature your photos in any future Scotiabank Nuit Blanche related promotion.


20 bars with 4AM last call at Nuit Blanche
Late night eats at Nuit Blanche

nuit blanchePhotos: Walk among Worlds Máximo González, 2014 | Photo: Ivan Buenader | Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2014, Nuit Blanche 2012 by Irina No, Global Rainbow Yvette Mattern, 2009-2014 | Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2014, Dress Rehearsal Tor Lukasik-Foss, 2014 | Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2014, Cascade Anandam Dancetheatre, Brandy Leary, Eamon Mac Mahon & James Bunton | Photo: Walter Lai | Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2014, Telos Vasco Araújo, 2011 | Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2014, Lizz Aston Rendering 2014, still from Sara Ludy + Nicolas Sassoon's WALLPAPERS.

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