Nuit Blanche 2012 Guide: Renegade Art
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Nuit Blanche 2012 Guide: Renegade Art

Ten of our picks for off-program art and events.

Nuit Blanche transforms Toronto’s downtown core into a giant, interactive art installation. Like the artists who make installations in galleries, Nuit Blanche participants are selected—but also inspire many others, who may not make the list but still have work to show. Every year since Nuit Blanche began artists, performers, and venues have been inspired by its enormous, exploring audience, hungry to see a city transformed, and have created their own installations, though they are not officially a part of Nuit Blanche.

Here are a few of the ones we’re most interested in:

Attack of the Zillion Dandy Butterflies — Normal People Scare Me
The Music Gallery/St. George The Martyr Anglican Church (197 John Street, near the south entrance to Grange Park)

By now most butterflies have left Toronto for the season, but not in the Music Gallery. That’s where the Normal People Scare Me, a Dada/Cacophony inspired collective, will be releasing hundreds of hand-made butterflies. You can drop by between 5 and 7:30 p.m. with your own hand-made butterflies to add to the installation.

Highlights: “Dada/Cacophony inspired” will almost certainly make for a provocative night.
Warning: Lepidopterophobics beware.

The Composition Engine — Trinity Nuit Blanche, Andrea Budgey, Maggie Helwig, and Peter Drobac
Trinity College Chapel (6 Hoskin Avenue)

From sunset until sunrise the chapel will be the site of a “composition engine”: teams of singers, musicians, and readers will be stationed around the space, to be started, stopped, and restarted by members of the audience using on/off switches. The audience’s choices will create a randomized tapestry of harmonious sound, shifting continuously over the course of the night, just as patterns of light shift around the chapel’s austere stone surfaces, natural light giving way to candlelight, followed by the first light of dawn.

Highlights: Audience-controlled music.
Warning: Audience-controlled music.

Endangered Species: a Sculptural Installation — Artimot
Theatrix Loft (165 Geary Aveneue, second floor)

Come see this collection of rare endangered illuminated specimens from far and exotic places.

Highlights: A little outside the Nuit Blanche Zones, it’s the perfect warm-up before delving into the insanity.
Warning: Only goes until 2 a.m.

Les Chevaux — The Keyhole Sessions
Twist Gallery (1100 Queen Street West)

Twist Gallery will be turned into a human carousel where life drawing models will be posing as colourful beasts for your drawing pleasure. Art materials will be supplied, all you need to bring is your enthusiasm.

Highlights: Their last such event, during Nuit Blanche 2011, entertained over 3,000 people, so you know it’s going to be a good time.
Warning: You may have to fight to get a good view of the models.

Morpheous’ Bondage Extravaganza — Over 90 artists from around the world
The Great Hall (1087 Queen Street West)

Toronto’s underground alternative sexuality community opens its doors to showcase a free demonstration of live erotic art. It’s a grown-ups-only spectacle for those interested in appreciating aerial rope art on the human form.

Highlights: It’s an open invitation into a subculture that’s far from mainstream.
Warning: Not a show for the wee ones.

Nuit Blanche Chip Mega Show — Jefftheworld and Friends
Old City Hall (100 Queen St. West)

Blasting out the bass for their fourth straight year, the Toronto chip music scene has come together for another night of mayhem! Game Boys, Atari computers, and all manner of unconventional retro synths will be pumping out the tunes from sundown to sunrise in front of Old City Hall. If you like electronic music or video games, this is the place to be!

Highlights: We caught this show last year and it was an amazing cacophony of beeps and boops that somehow turned into fantastic music. A great spot to re-energize through dance.
Warning: It will be loud. Very loud. (Conceivably also a highlight.)

Nuit Blanche Scavenger Hunt — T.O. Light the NIght
Hunt begins at 7 p.m. at Hunt HQ (221 Yonge St)

An EPIC interactive scavenger hunt, to raise awareness and funds for programming for young Torontonians through SKETCH, Covenant House, and Jessie’s Centre. Join the hunt by registering online or bringing a group of friends (four per team), two smart phones, a donation, and lots of energy.

Highlights: If you haven’t decided what (official) art to see, this hunt will send you to some good installations. Also, prizes.
Warning: $10 participation fee (that all goes to charity, which is actually a highlight) and it ends at midnight.

Parachute Bomb — David Carey, Joel Dmitruk, and Caitlin Mullin
Unexpectedly throughout Yonge Street, the University of Toronto, Queen’s Park, Grange Park, David Pecaut Square, and other public spaces

Referencing humanity’s dreams of flight and childhood playtime traditions, Parachute Bomb will fill the night with unexpected playtime, surprising Nuit Blanche attendees with bursts of parachute fun.

Highlights: Spontaneous bursts of childlike glee.
Warning: Unless you’re keeping a close eye on their Twitter feed you’ll have to rely on luck to find them.

The Passion of Joan of Arc — Bryan Goman, Thom Huhtala, and Loft 404 ~ The Ambrosia Hub
The Ambrosia Hub (263 Adelaide Street West, fourth floor)

All are invited to experience a screening of the 1928 classic The Passion of Joan of Arc accompanied by a live soundtrack performed by local musicians. There is only one performance, at 11:11 p.m., but the space will be acting as a rejuvenation oasis with warm drinks and art installations from 9 p.m. until dawn.

Highlights: Warm drinks, tasty treats, and a relaxing atmosphere, this is the perfect spot to chill out.
Warning: There’s only one performance.

Editors note: and one more we wanted to make sure to mention…
Caution: Art (part 2) — Stephanie Avery
Various locations

Torontoist contributor Stephanie Avery (in fact, she wrote the rest of this post) will wrap “Caution: Art” tape around ordinary objects, creating barricades that separate us from things we generally take for granted. Avery says: “not only will this transform regular objects into art, the use of caution tape implies a state of transition and will create an atmosphere of urgency, encouraging viewers to appreciate the temporary beauty of Nuit Blanche.”


Focus: Yonge Street west to John, from King south to Front.


Focus: Victoria west to University, from Dundas south to King


Focus: Jarvis west to Yonge, from Shuter Street south to Front.