11 October 2014

Toronto's Nuit Blanche 2014

Last Saturday was Nuit Blanche, an annual one-night sunset to sunrise event that transforms the streets of Toronto into a living art festival. It's easily one of my favourite events of the year! 2014 marks my third year attending, but my first year with a camera in hand.

Since this post is about an art festival, it's pretty photo-heavy! Read on, or check out the photos on my Flickr!

Like every other year, I started off the night with dinner with my Nuit Blanche crew of the night. We ended up having all-you-can-eat sushi for almost two hours! Since it'd gotten dark and cold by the time we started our trek, we got tea down the street. I tried the orange blossom tea, and oh my god it's so delicious!

I almost always walk everywhere during Nuit Blanche, You never really know what you'll run into in the streets, and I'm always up for the adventure. This year, we ran into three different street parties! Not including the group of ravers on bikes cruising up Spadina with their portable speakers.

A lot of the art at Nuit Blanche is definitely on the avant garde side, where everything is conceptual and everything (and nothing) is art. I love seeing what people think up, so it's a lot of fun for me. But I can also see why some people don't think it's art at all.

Between Doors, by Labspace Studios
Our first stop was Fort York, a new space for Nuit Blanche. There were a few pieces on the grounds, and we tried to hit up as many as possible. One that I wish I could have gotten a photo of was the Ascendent Line by Wilfredo Prieto, which was a huge installation piece of a red carpet winding through Fort York and ending at the top of a flagpole.

Acendent Line, by Wilfredo Prieto

Melting Point, by LeuWebb Projects, Jeff Lee, Omar Khan
One of the main exhibit sets I'd wanted to see this year was the Night Circus exhibitions. These pieces were all inspired by Erin Morgenstern's novel, The Night Circus. The novel features a circus that appears only after the sun has set, and disappears as soon as dawn arrives. Nuit Blanche is essentially the same thing. The novel has been on my to-read list for at least two years now, anyway.

Big Top Grand Srand, by SuttonBeresCuller
The eerie circus theme is found in another piece, where a single performer makes sausages in a caravan while a duo performs haunting music from a tent behind. I don't know about you, but I'm kinda into the creepy circus theme this year. (American Horror Story: Freak Show, anyone?)

The Melodious Malfeasance Meat-Grinding Machine, by Dana Sherwood
The next huge one after that is one of the "must-see" installations. A performing artist is submerged in a tank of water and performs mundane tasks. The sound from inside the tank is shared with the audience through a hydrophone. Although the performance features a rotating cast, the performer we saw was a man seemingly making his bed to sleep but was constantly disturbed. The effect was surreal.

Holoscenes, by Lars Jan
Icebreaker, by Diane Landry
One of the exhibitions that I liked was a relatively simple one by the Mary Ward Art Collective, which I think is a group of high school students. Their piece is conceptually simple, but I like the way they brought it to life. A shining city sits atop, and when the wheel is spun, a glaring skull made of garbage and dirt appears underneath.

Underfoot, by Mary Ward Art Collective
For those that are a little overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of city life (or maybe just life in general), one of the exhibits is a set of soundproofed booths that people can go into and just share their distress. Perferably in the form of a scream.

Screaming Booth, by Chelanie Beaudin-Quitin
By this point, it was around midnight and two of my party of four had already left. We planned to hit up the rest of the big exhibitions on Queen and Spadina, and call it a night. What we didn't count on was spending about ten minutes in line to see one of the bigger installations. And I'm super grateful we did! But first...

Amaze by Marcos Zotes and Global Rainbow by Yvette Mattern
One of the pieces we could see throughout the city was the Global Rainbow, a light installation that begins in Chinatown and ends with all seven lights at the same spot on the CN Tower. The installation in front of it is Amaze, creating using scaffolding on top of a dirt parking lot. Apparently, you could go in, but it was way too crowded so my friend and I decided to skip the interactivity.

Walk Among Worlds, Maximo Gonzales
Walk Among Worlds is easily one of my favourite pieces this Nuit Blanche. It features 7 000 differently-sized beach-ball globes, strung up on trees and lightposts in a schoolyard. The entire thing was rather surreal, since the lighting also changed sporadically. When we left, everything had turned a dark, moody red.

It was still a huge party in the streets of Toronto when my friend and I finally decided to go home at two in the morning. Most of the installations are taken down once the sun rises, but some things stay up for another week. I managed to see a lot more things than I got to take photos of, but I'm very happy with how the night turned out! I really can't wait to see what all these artists come up with for next year!


  1. I've only been to Nuit Blanche once, and I don't think I experienced it right...LOL (well, I didn't care for it, so). But seeing these photos has made me reconsider and I might try going out next year. Really like that Melting Point piece, and I actually went to Mary Ward! (Yeah, it's a high school and I suppose they/we do have a pretty solid art department)

    1. Nuit Blanche definitely isn't for everyone. I just happen to like the avant garde art just as much as the all-night street party! If I didn't have my camera with me, I would have joined the parties we stumbled upon.
      Melting Point had a soundscape with it, which I think was supposed to be roaring glaciers melting, but it sounded like lions to me LOL. But the flashing lights were beautiful!