When Luminato first began four years ago, our sense was that it was aiming to be an immersive experience—that it would, for ten days, cause us to experience small pockets of our city in new ways in virtue of art that had been embedded in the urban environment. It hasn’t entirely turned out that way, especially this year. With a majority of events and programmes taking place in traditional performance venues, the art is a bit more sequestered from the street than perhaps it once was. (Remember the Spiegeltent from Luminato’s first year? Even if you weren’t inside at the show, the construction of a temporary new venue made Harbourfront feel different.) Not that we’re ungrateful—Luminato has brought us some excellent theatre, dance, and book readings. But we can’t help but wish that there were more interventions in our public spaces, that Luminato was more palpable as we walked down the street.
Fortunately, though the art installations are relatively few in number, a couple of them make up for it by being thoroughly transporting—they have that magical disorienting effect, the one that leaves you discombobulated because you get so immersed in the artwork that you lose track of your surroundings. Two, in particular, are standouts: Ship O’ Fools in Trinity Bellwoods Park, and the two-part Solar Breath (Northern Caryatids) and Light Air, curated by Atom Egoyan and installed at Brookfield Place. The boat—a salvaged Chinese junk—has been filled with small vignettes, fun gizmos, and all manner of adorable little animated toys; walking through it feels like a trip though a miniature house. Solar Breath and Light Air, a pair of film installations curated by Atom Egoyan, are Luminato’s tribute to co-founder David Pecaut, who passed away at the end of last year. They are marvellous, quiet interludes, meditations on the cinematic quality simple things take on when you’re keenly aware of the all-too-rapid passage of time.
Also fun, and worth checking out if you’re in the neighbourhood: the giant tower of books on the ground floor of the Toronto Reference Library, and the rope-strewn main concourse of Brookfield Place, with a fashionably dressed statue at its centre.
Check out our Luminato guide or today’s Urban Planner for our Luminato recommendations, or follow our coverage here.
Photos by Nancy Paiva/Torontoist.