Toronto was buzzing last night!
It was the night of the annual Scotiabank Nuit Blanche (“sleepless night”) festival – a city-wide, night-time arts & cultural exhibition developed by the French over a decade ago which has since spread across the world. Ontatio’s largest city was the first North American location to take on the Nuit Blanche concept in 2006; 8 years later, 2013’s event saw 110 official art locations scattered around the CBD with easily a couple of hundred thousand sightseers taking to the streets between sunset & sunrise to revel in the festivities.
I had no idea the festival was even happening until the last minute – a friend pointed it out to me the day before so I decided I might as well check it out. Not knowing what to expect, I left my hotel in time to make the 6:51pm starting time, and as it turned out, the vibe was so electric that I didn’t get home until the very wee hours of the morning.
As with most cultural festivals of this stature, the artworks and performances varied greatly in dynamic, coherence & relevance, with a lot of room for interaction & participation from the public. From the traditional to the downright absurd, some of the exhibitions included:
– An impromptu streetside performance of Romeo & Juliet
– A panoramic screening of a future Martian landscape
– Artificially intelligent fishing rods playing tug-of-war with a canoe in the middle of a pond
– A raised platform where the crowd were encouraged to strap on a blindfold, walk around and see in the dark
– A wolf, hawk, frog, penguin and dodo (I think that’s what they were anyway) all having a tea party in a magical medieval garden
Here were some of my favourites!
The final piece I saw on the night made the cut as one of the most magnificent artworks I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing. By this stage it was well past midnight and I was on the walk home to my hotel in the city’s north-west, when I chanced upon the Trinity College Chapel, discovering an off-program exhibit called The Composition Engine.
Positioned within the gorgeous chapel were a number of musicians, vocalists and script-readers, who each had a light assigned to them. Members of the visiting public were able to walk the halls of the chapel and turn the lights on or off: if the light was switched on, the performer would play; if the light was switched off, the performer would stop. It was an incredible concept – words can’t describe how peaceful it was to be part of this ever-changing soundscape and lightscape. I was there nearly an hour before completing the journey home in newfound harmony.
Toronto – all I can say is that you’re doing a fantastic job at welcoming this newcomer to your beautiful city. I can’t wait to see what else you have in store… and bring on Nuit Blanche 2014 🙂
If you went to Toronto’s Nuit Blanche 2013, I’d love to hear in the comments below what your favourite installation was!