September 30, 2006, marked the day (or rather, night) Toronto’s art scene and the way we experienced it changed for good. From dusk until dawn, the unsuspecting masses walked through their neighbourhoods all over the city to find them transformed with the visual and interactive musings of local and international artists in the form of art installations in unassuming places. An ordinary alleyway that one would never walk through alone any other night, was transformed into a spectacle of light and dance, encouraging audience participation to the beat of African drums. Another year, the ‘local’ mental health institution (CAMH) turned into an art gallery, featuring works from the patients within it. Last year, a pirate ship ‘docked’ smack dab in the middle of Trinity Bellwoods park.
Around 425,000 people attended the first Nuit Blanche in Toronto. That number has steadily grown to just shy of 1 million every year since, and has brought over $70 million in revenue for the City of Toronto. Nuit Blanche (now universally translated as: “Sleepless night”) originally started in Paris, France in 2002. In 2005, Mayor David Miller and the City of Toronto were invited to join with six other European cities already participating in the festival, making ours’ the first in North America to bring Contemporary Art to our public spaces.
This year over 130 exhibits will be sprawled across the city in 3 zones (A, B and C). Here is a quick preview of a few projects participating in this year’s festivities, for a full listing or to map out your course of action for the night, visit scotiabanknuitblanche.ca or DOWNLOAD the iPhone app on iTunes.
Listening to Love: Next Time Can We Choose Our Gender? By John Shipman – Zone A
This project uses simple means to present gender complexity. Out-of-date telephones, classic love songs, and old love poems give listeners a gentle nudge towards openness and empathy for the diverse choices that we all make in our search for love and understanding.
A City Sleepover By Jessica Rose – Zone A (Photo by David Hawe)
You are invited to participate in a giant civic slumber party [in the Lower Bay St. subway station]. Roll out your sleeping bag and get cozy in your favourite pjs as we come together to stay awake for the Nuit. A City Sleepover is a place for Toronto to safely rest. BYO PJS, SLEEPING BAG, TOOTHBRUSH.
Intensity By John Notten – Zone C
Intensity re-imagines a pivotal moment in Toronto’s struggle with homelessness; the infamous Tent City that arose on a desolate plot of waterfront land. Like the much-publicized eviction of this community’s occupants in 2002, the viewer is forced to move out of their temporary tent homes every few minutes. This echoes the realities of makeshift communities around the world that rise up in the wake of human tragedy. Toronto’s financial district, epicentre of Canadian power and wealth, becomes the stage for this all-night drama.
Written by Keesha Williams.