Sunday, October 04, 2009

Nuit Blanche - do not go quietly into the light

Quite a few people walked the streets of Toronto, some rowdy and inebriated (Queen St West was a party zone), following the art exhibitions that comprise Nuit Blanche. The crowds can be huge and many of the lineups scare off people - including me for several of my pre-show choices. If you are going to hit the show next year and don't like crowds I would suggest going out really late, say starting at 2 or 3 in the morning. Remember it is an all night art thing. I started around 9pm and packed it in at 4:30am.

In the photo above curious Blanchers start into the bright, orange traffic cones making up Rescue Bubble by Tomer Diamant in the Liberty Village area. Joe Fresh and I began our Nuit Blanche bicycle tour at Nathans Phillips Square, below, where A Beautiful Life: 4 Letter Word Machine by D. A. Therrien illuminated the square with sometimes nonsensical test and loudspeakers blared out the pronunciation of each word. It was similar to last years Stereoscope with the use of lights in the windows of City Hall spelling out words.

Like previous versions of Nuit Blanche many of the art installations are cool and interesting but many just raise the thought "this is art?" - Hi "Hey Dave". Dave was a lazy greeter on a recliner meeting some new fans in front of Old City Hall.

We tried to see Ice Queen: Glacial Retreat Dress Tent in the north entrance of Eaton Centre but the crowds in the entrance made it almost impossible to get close so off we went to Rabbit Balloon by Jeff Koons located within the Eaton Centre. The large, metallic balloon floated high above the Sears entrance and was a lot of fun, but then again I liked the Big Red Ball of Luminato.

Close by was the exhibits at Ryerson University and one I like in particular was the infrared projection of crowds high onto the face of a building. It was great when a couple did a Hollywood kiss.

On our way to the Distillery District we dropped by the low wattage 12 Hours of Power where people rode bikes to power generators that barely glowed around the Berczy Park fountain. Oh well, on to the Distillery District which is a fantastic place to visit anytime and on this night it was perfect. Crowds were manageable and the energy was great. First off here was the PhotoSecret by Rob Gee. Photos and secrets were projected on a wall by the spider type sculpture. I remember the balloon secrets from last years Nuit Blanche but again, I love secrets so top marks for me. There was also an Art of Fashion Iconic Power event at the Fermenting Cellar with some great fashion and jewelry.

Riding our bikes we were able to cover the territory faster than joining the rest of the crowds walking along the sidewalks and spilling into the roads. Long lines were found at many of the events including Massey Hall, Church of the Holy Trinity and in Liberty Village. I setup my itinerary based on events that I would find interesting or visually stimulating and where crowds were to large we bypassed the projects. The City of Toronto had closed down several roads for several areas involved in Nuit Blanche. One such area was McCaul Street alongside the Ontario College of Art and Design where large blow up figures lounged along the streets and climbed the walls. There was also a large pit with a couple large stuffed animals and a lot of smoke.

Some even rode bikes as part of commissioned project Bicitycycle by Kyohei Sakaguchi.

Bay Street was also closed in the area of King Street West. Small town fair rides invaded the banking district with Wild Ride by Dempsey and Millan and a pool of vodka, literally title Vodka Pool by Dan Mihaltianu, took over a lobby.

The successful Scotiabank Nuit Blanche was spread out over a lot of downtown Toronto and was split into three sections: section A was Downtown north, section B was Downtown south and section C was southwest. You could do a lot of walking, ride a bike, try to drive a car around or take the TTC which had a special deal for the night. Some of the people on the street were dressed up in flashing cowboy hats, colourful wigs and other cool outfits.

The last stop of the night was at Casa Loma, actually it was in the stables (also another castle) of Casa Loma where we took in La Grand Peep Show by Corpus. My sleepy dreams of tassel twirling, flesh exposing beauties was dashed by some velcro covered teletubbies.

Friendly revelers give thumbs up for the long night of art.

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