Area: in and around Nathan Phillips Square and Toronto City Hall.
Taking inspiration from Marcel Duchamp’s dadaist work, the Off to a flying start zone of this year’s Nuit Blanche, curated by Ami Barak, celebrates the items we see and use in our day-to-day lives. The area around City Hall will be transformed into a more whimsical (and hopefully more thoughtful) version of itself. Here are a few pieces we’re excited about.
Forever Bicycles — Ai Weiwei
Ai Weiwei doesn’t need much introduction, because his work has been seen at Toronto’s Luminato Festival, the AGO, and Nathan Phillips Square, all within the last several months. His Nuit Blanche installation transforms 3,144 Chinese-made bicycles into a large-scale sculpture, which means it will probably be hard to miss during the event. Luckily, it will be open 24-7 until October 27, for anyone wanting a better look.
Highlights: It’s Ai Weiwei, for free.
Warning: You may never look at your bike the same way again.
1-855-IS IT ART (1-855-474-8278) — VSVSVS
For some Torontonians, the art of Nuit Blanche is king. For others, it only gets in the way of drinking and wandering. But now artistic conversations are fair game for everyone, thanks to 1-855-IS IT ART, a hotline where real-life artists will tell you if what you’re looking at is art, or just a haphazard window display.
Highlights: It’s both an art piece and a helpful piece of customer service.
Warning: These experts could be artistically and conversationally drained by sunrise.
Hysteria Coordinating — Sherri Hay
Described as a “freeform performance of simple white garbage bags,” this piece is intended to make you imagine that any object can determine where it wants to go.
Highlights: Inadvertently graceful moves by the bags.
Warning: It’s flying garbage bags, so if it’s a windy night you might see similar scenes unfold on any street.
Garden Tower in Toronto — Tadashi Kawamata
Japanese artist Tadashi Kawamata will create a Tower of Babel-like structure out of chairs, benches, and other objects generally used for sitting, rather than ascending to the heavens. The fact that all of this will be taking place at the Metropolitan United Church will undoubtedly add another awesome layer of meaning to the project, which is an extended project and will be open to the public 24 hours a day until October 14.
Highlights: A dining room chair may never be this impressive again.
Warning: Don’t touch anything.
PLASTIC BAGS — Pascale Marthine Tayou
Pascale Marthine Tayou’s large-scale sculpture made of plastic bags is supposed to emphasize their banality and the way they symbolize waste in developed economies—but in Toronto, we all know that plastic bags carry a certain political weight, as well. Torontonians can see how that changes Tayou’s meaning, or not, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, until October 14—it’s another extended project.
Highlights: This could be inspiration for a cerebral (yet cheap) home decorating idea.
Warning: It could be Rob Ford’s favourite Nuit Blanche installation.
El Agua de Niebla — Melik Ohanian
Artist Melik Ohanian recruited several families in Mexico to weave a traditional hammock that’s 44 times the usual size. It took eight weeks and 72,000 meters of thread to make, and it will certainly be a captivating comment on collaboration and collective creation. It will be located right beside City Hall, a place that lacks those qualities.
Highlights: A large-scale project that’s easy to view in a large crowd.
Warning: Hammocks are usually cooler in theory than in practice, aren’t they?
Toaster Work Wagon — Kim Adams
Nuit Blanche is all about turning the city into a giant playground, so it just wouldn’t be complete without some tiny trikes. Add the element of cooperation into the mix, since artist Kim Adams has made every bike into a two-seater, and you have a recipe for a very engaging piece of performance art.
Highlights: This kind of participation could be fun, frustrating, rewarding, and satisfying all at the same time.
Warning: Lineups. Expect them.
Take a Load Off — Tongue & Groove
An experiment in found-art object construction, Take a Load Off will splice together various bits of furniture and other materials to build a sort of post-apocalyptic living room in a laneway.
Highlights: It’s art you can sit on.
Warning: It’s entirely possible this will just look like someone took the living room from your third-year share house and moved it into an alley.
Plan your Nuit Blanche with the help of our guides…