Photo from last year’s Nuit Blanche by Dipp from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.
Nuit Blanche! Are you excited? Ambivalent? Now in its third year, the all-night contemporary art thing (sponsored by some bank whose name we can’t quite recall) kicks off at sunset Saturday and runs until sunrise Sunday.
While the best way to truly enjoy the party is to get lost wandering through each of its zones, we’ve nonetheless whittled down the dozens upon dozens of projects on display to offer a selected guide to the night—the things you really shouldn’t miss. And since you can’t possibly see it all, tune back into Torontoist in the days after Nuit Blanche to see photos from the night shot by our photographers and members of our Flickr pool.
Zone A (Downtown North)
PROJECT BLINKENLIGHTS AT CITY HALL (100 QUEEN STREET WEST)
Photos of Blinkenlights being tested by pdinnen.
Blinkenlights have been transforming the mass of buildings’ windows into beautiful moving art for almost a decade, and now they’ve rigged our fair city hall to transform it into a never-ending festival of lights. If their past work is any indication, the awe factor should be huge. You can even stay on top of the exhibit all night from afar, too, if you download the live simulator for your Mac or iPhone.–DAVID TOPPING
“Useless Beauty” & “Design for the Other 90%”
VARIOUS ARTISTS AT OCAD (100 McCAUL STREET)
Art and politics make beautiful babies. The group show “Useless Beauty” examines the relationships between technology, gender, race, and power, using everything from photography to smoke-spouting couture. Meanwhile, “Design for the Other 90%” takes on design for the great unwashed and makes a point about liberating beauty from the confines of wealth.–HAMUTAL DOTAN
Zombies in Condoland
JILLIAN McDONALD AT COLLEGE PARK (444 YONGE STREET)
Image courtesy of Jillian McDonald
Whether it’s walks, festivals, or serving as a location for George Romero films and their
remakes, Toronto loves zombies. We also love living in condominiums, with hordes of residents moving into little boxes in the sky made out of ticky-tacky. Jillian McDonald brings these love affairs together at College Park after sundown with Zombies in Condoland. Audience members can let loose their inner resurrected corpse and be transformed into zombies to form the horde required to enact the piece. If you wish to attend in your own undead regalia, the piece’s website offers makeup tips on how to decay yourself in eight easy steps.–JAMIE BRADBURN
Where Are You Right Now?
DIASPORA DIALOGUES AT CANADA’S NATIONAL BALLET SCHOOL (400 JARVIS STREET)
Diaspora Dialogues asks the question “where are you right now?” with an interactive installation of collected voices at the Celia Franca Centre at Canada’s National Ballet School. The non-profit literary organization that, according to president Helen Walsh, was created to “reflect the city’s complexity through a diverse selection of literary voices and experiences,” invites visitors to provide and record their interpretations of the question in any way they choose. The resulting recordings will be incorporated into a massive multi-channel sound installation throughout the evening, designed and facilitated by musician John Gzowski and artist Camellia Koo. What is revealed is a complex story of a diverse city, composed of many different voices.–STACEY MAY FOWLES
Domaine de l’angle #2
BGL AT THE ALLEY BESIDE MASSEY HALL OFF OF SHUTER STREET
Created by BGL (whose website, quelle dommage, is tout en français), Domaine de l’angle #2 will see an office ceiling complete with fluorescent lights installed over the alley beside Massey Hall, fusing the mundaneness of street life with the mundaneness of office life in an exhibit that will not be depressing, not even a little bit.–DT
TOM BENDSTEN AT THE MACDONALD BLOCK BUILDING (900 BAY STREET)
For Conversation #2 (pictured), artist Tom Bendtsen has used 12,000 books to construct a four metre by four metre oval-shaped tower. It’s not the first time he’s used books as his artistic medium: Conversation #1 neatly arranged books to turn library shelves into a colourful spectrum to show, as he put it, how “the connection we have with stories is more than intellectual.” At Nuit Blanche, an opening in his tower of books will allow visitors to enter his creation. Inside, if they examine the dark interior closely enough, they’ll see small fungal plant-life inhabiting the books.–KEVIN PLUMMER
ADAM DAVID BROWN AT MACDONALD BLOCK, HEPBURN BLOCK (80 GROSVENOR STREET)
As in some of his previous work, Adam David Brown compresses images taken over a long period of time into a single video installation. In Time-Piece, the moon appears much larger than in nature as it rises and sets through all twenty-seven of its monthly phases to give us the opportunity to observe it in a new way.–KP
Zone B (Downtown South)
NOAM GONICK AT COMMERCE COURT (25 KING STREET WEST)
Given the recent economic implosion south of the border, Noam Gonick’s film installation Commerce Court seems especially timely. Turning comedy into art, Roman Danylo—star of Comedy Inc.—plays an on-the-edge-of-a-nervous-breakdown CEO riding the economic roller-coaster.–KP
Nuit Blanche at 401
VARIOUS ARTISTS AT 401 RICHMOND STREET
Toronto’s poster-child for progressive, mixed-used commercial development has so far proven to be one of Nuit Blanche’s major draws. It’s not the just the convenient bathrooms and sexy rooftop garden—the building plays host to a generous array of intriguing exhibits. Between the Cinecycle showing of proto-music videos from the ’50s and ’60s (Elvis meets MuchMusic?) and the ominous-sounding Bar Mitzvah Machine (’cause really, the first one wasn’t bad enough), a whole world of nostalgic time-travel awaits.–HD
Make a Scene!
NFB AT THE NFB MEDIATHEQUE (150 JOHN STREET)
If you feel like acting but prefer to stay more lifelike, you can Make a Scene at the NFB Mediatheque. Under the eye of VJ Theo Buchinskas, participants can live out their green-screen fantasies as they are integrated into classic National Film Board clips and projected in front of all. Hopefully there will be few injuries if anyone attempts to imitate the works of Norman McLaren.–JB
Toronto Nocturnes I
RICARDO OKARANZO AT BROOKFIELD PLACE’S GARDEN COURT (161 BAY STREET, AT FRONT STREET)
Night reveals another face of the city. Ricardo Okaranza’s photography installation Toronto Nocturnes I will capture the silent and people-less cityscape with a new focus. Darkness reveals often unnoticed aspects of the streetscape’s beauty as buildings, monuments, and street furniture mix with nature in ways not possible in the daylight.–KP
The Greatest Falls
THIERRY MARCEAU AT THE PARKING LOT AT CHURCH AND COLBORNE STREETS
So many Nuit Blanche exhibits have the potential to be totally awkward (hello, Fifteen Seconds), but few have a premise more firmly stuck between inspiring and befuddling than this exhibit by performance artist Thierry Marceau, which will see him “reveal his true identity as Superman, as he would have been portrayed by the late Christopher Reeve.” Bring a date!–DT
Zone C (South/West)
I Promise It Will Always Be This Way
JON SASAKI AT LAMPORT STADIUM (1105 KING STREET WEST)
Celebrated film, video, performance, and installation artist John Sasaki provides one of the more delightful visions on offer for the evening as he coordinates a large group of people dressed as team mascots to take over the field at Lamport Stadium to a rock and roll soundtrack. Part hilarious spectacle and part ingenious intent, I Promise It Will Always Be This Way is a study in futility and fatigue, as over-worked mascots attempt to whip the revolving crowd into a frenzy. Eventually their efforts fade, and mascots require smokes, snacks, and naps over the course of the evening. As time wears on, lethargy increases and enthusiasm dwindles, mirrored by a slowed-down musical soundtrack, and the artist’s message is revealed.–SMF
SMASH! Droppin’ Stuff
THE CUSTODIANS OF DESTRUCTION AT THE PARKING LOT OF 60 ATLANTIC AVENUE
It is exactly what it sounds like.–DT
MICHEL DE BROIN AT THE FORMER PRISON CHAPEL AT EAST LIBERTY AND LYNN WILLIAMS STREETS
Michel de Broin—the man behind the infamous Shared Propulsion Car—launches a waterfall out of a third-story window, Toronto’s temporary answer to Olafur Eliasson’s Waterfalls without risking the lives of kayakers or trees.–DT
BRIAN JOSEPH DAVIS AT THE REAR OF LIBERTY TOWERS PRESENTATION CENTRE (80 LYNN WILLIAMS STREET)
In his latest foray into sound recordings and sound experimentation, Brian Joseph Davis will create music from randomness in Original Soundtrack. With twenty TVs each stuck on the menu screen of a different DVD, the strings, piano, and sound effects of each will intersperse and blend together into something completely unique. With each on its own repetitive cycle, the layers of sound will be constantly shifting the entire night.–KP
Nuit Gladstone II
VARIOUS ARTISTS AT THE GLADSTONE HOTEL (1214 QUEEN STREET WEST)
Lightweights stumble home at 2 a.m., tired, tipsy, and sick of the crowds. The hardcore push through the pain. Their rewards are lavish: 100 artists, roving burlesque performances, and a 5 a.m. brunch. It’s the perfect over-the-top ending to this over-the-top night.–HD
VARIOUS LOCATIONS AND THE LULA LOUNGE (1585 DUNDAS STREET WEST)
This year, Nuit Blanche works hard to appeal to the little ones with a new family-friendly guide to the event (scroll down), hand picked by Bunch, Toronto’s facilitator of fun family experiences. Bunch even offers an after party, as Lula Lounge plays host to an afternoon disco dance party from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Kids and their caregivers are invited to share the dance floor and get down, while artists and choreographers will be on hand to collaborate with kids for some on-the-spot art and performance. Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for kids.–SMF
Okay, so it’s not an exhibit, and it’s not free, and it doesn’t include Lower Bay. But the TTC is doing us all a big favour and extending its service so that subway stations—Eglinton to St. George on the Yonge-University Line and Christie to Broadview on the Bloor-Danforth—are open till 7 a.m. Sunday, with tons of additional service on ground routes: all-night service along King Street (with buses replacing streetcars at 3 a.m.) and the 511 Bathurst route (with buses replacing streetcars at 2 a.m.); additional service on the 509 Harbourfront route until 8 a.m.; and additional service on the 301 Queen, 303 Don Mills, 305 Eglinton East, 306 Carlton, 307 Eglinton West, 316 Ossington, and 329 Dufferin blue night routes. Take our word on this one: you don’t want to drive or take a cab on Nuit Blanche. Besides, there’s something just a little tiny bit illicit and disarming and exciting about taking a subway car home at 5 a.m., and there’s definitely something to be said for experiencing the chaos of the night as it passes you by through a streetcar window.–DT
Written by Jamie Bradburn, Hamutal Dotan, Stacey May Fowles, Kevin Plummer, and David Topping. Compiled by David Topping.
All images unless otherwise marked courtesy of the City of Toronto/Nuit Blanche.