I attended my first Nuit Blanche this past week!
Now, before delving into my takes on the event, let’s do a short description of Nuit Blanche for our friends out there who may not be familiar with the event. The literal translation of nuit blanche means ‘white night.’ But I think that it’s a little more accurate to think of it as a sleepless night. Basically, starting at 7PM, there are numerous art installations put up throughout the city that can be visited. These installations are up for twelve full hours, ending at 7AM the next day. Some installations are put up in traditional art venues, like museums. Others are installed in cultural centers, like Younge-Dundas Square. These installations are accessible, free of charge to anyone.
I live in Toronto’s downtown core, so I was within walking distance of a bunch of the installations. I was feeling a little under the weather, so I limited my touring to five works that were all within a few kilometers of my apartment. Having never been to a Nuit Blanche, I wasn’t sure what to expect. So, I left my apartment with nothing more than my camera and wallet and hoping for the best.
I hit the streets and quickly realized how many Torontonians were out. Now, when I say the streets were full, I mean it. Brisk walking on the sidewalks was impossible and sometimes crossing the street was a struggle. Since the event is free (and super interesting) it makes sense that so many people came out to see it.
While it was crowded and a bit overwhelming, it was lovely to see so many people out and about for the sole purpose of viewing art. Now, some may disagree with me citing that oftentimes Nuit Blanche ends in a big party. However, my rationale is that people are out with the premise that they will at least engage with some art. In my opinion, engagement with some art, even under the guise of alcohol, is better than no art.
Now, onto the art itself! All of the art was contemporary in nature and much of it focused around multimedia projects. The first work I viewed, space time, was a video production. Chasing Red incorporated sounds and lights with choreographed performative dance. It’s wildly common for contemporary artists to use multimedia to varying degrees in any installation, so I wasn’t surprised to see this incorporated into many installations.
However, I was intrigued by the number of performative pieces that I saw. My academic research loosely revolves around performance art, and these types of work often don’t leave a tangible presence as with a painting or photograph. Thus, sourcing and documentation can be troublesome. The content of performance pieces at Nuit Blanche wasn’t relevant to my research, but seeing people in real life perform their art helped me understand performative pieces within my own work. Plus, it’s always interesting to see art that only happens once!
My first Nuit Blanche won’t soon be forgotten! I’m already excited to see what new creations will turn up next year.