By Nuala Murray
Saturday September 30th marks our city’s 12th annual nocturnal celebration of art and culture, Nuit Blanche. Every fall Toronto is transformed into a cultural playground for one night only: as art lovers tour the city in search of entirely free exhibitions from some of the nation’s top contemporary artists. However, as even the most seasoned Nuit Blanchers know -- it's always easy to get swept up in crowds of excited art-fanatics or stranded between remote subway stops and end up missing the best exhibits and installations. This year the program will feature over 85 contemporary art projects by more than 350 local, national and international artists. So if you’re planning to hit the town on Toronto’s infamous White Night, take note of Twist’s top 5 Nuit installations to make sure you don’t head home without catching the highlights this year!
1. Prosperity for All, Expo for Design, Innovation & Technology
Where is it? East Harbour (formerly Unilever soap factory)
EDIT will be opening their doors to the public for an immersive all night experience on the first floor of East Harbour (formerly Unilever soap factory). The theme of the exhibit is “Prosperity for All,” which is a wide-reaching exploration of the world’s global issues through design, photography, speakers and installations. Check this immersive art-scape out to see how design, innovation and technology have the power to transform our lives for the better!
2. Have You Seen My Sister? Artists of the Aurora
Where is it? Grosvenor Street between Bay Street and Surrey Place
Nuit Blanche isn’t only about visual art. It’s a celebration of interdisciplinary forms of culture that speak to contemporary Canadian life. This musical project features a group of artists that sing the names of Canada’s missing and murdered aboriginal women in order to draw attention to these identities that have been ignored and erased by the Canadian legal system. The collaboration of musicians and artists invite participation from their audience through a traditional Call and Response musical style, in order to directly involve Torontonians in the pursuit of justice for missing and murdered indigenous women. This musical performance is symbolically located on the grounds of Ontario parliament, in order to gesture towards the government’s lack of recognition of the lives of aboriginal women. Make sure to check out this stop to become part of an authentic musical ritual and show solidarity for our nation’s aboriginal women!
3. Layered Cities, Anne Hanrahan
Where is it? Artscape Youngplace, 180 Shaw Street (Flex Studio 107)
This maze-like installation work superimposes images of Canadian environments with other locations that Canadians have originated from, in order to create a multiplex portrait of the future of urban Canadian landscapes. The installation works to give its viewers a distinct sense of space and locality, while reminding them of the diverse nature of our cities. The projections in the exhibit move as individual viewers walk through the exhibit, giving each viewer the power to self-create their own unique experience of time, place and location. Make sure to explore this urban maze to celebrate Canadian citizen’s diversity and to see a unique vision of the future of Canada’s multicultural urban centres!
4. StarSCAPE by F_RM lab
Where is it? 5 Camden Street
This installation by F_RM lab, a student-led collective comprised of graduates and undergraduates at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture, works to reconnect city-dwellers with their natural surroundings. The vast, glowing natural skyscape and galaxy of stars around us is rendered invisible by the pollution-clouded night sky of Toronto, but this architectural installation (an undulating canopy that stretches through an alleyway) works to surround viewers in a veil of digitally generated stars. This installation allows its occupants to be engulfed by a beautiful and immersive digital starscape -- paradoxically providing them with an artificially created experience of being within nature. However, the installation also shows its occupants a view of the real night time sky, so that viewers can see the stark contrast between the fantastic, digitized stars that surround them and the reality of the barren polluted atmosphere that hovers over our urban core. Check this installation out for a fully immersive experience that demonstrates technology’s power to actually reconnect society to nature!
5. Holding Still // Holding Together by Annie MacDonnel
Where is it? Medical Sciences Building Courtyard, 1 Kings College Circle
Part performance art, part video installation, this work explores the body in relation to politics. The work draws inspiration from contemporary issues of police brutality in order to negotiate the relationships between bodies, power and vulnerability. The live performance aspect of the work features dancers that work together to reenact the moments of bodily/political resistance, transferring them from still image into live action. By bringing to life images from film, MacDonnel aims to give viewers a more in-depth and up-close view of bodies in conflict, hoping to influence people’s perceptions of street protests, police conflict and other methods of physical resistance that continue to circulate through contemporary media. The artist also creates an interesting contrast within her work, by using the beautiful art of dance to represent brutality and violence. Check this performance out to see how body art and dance have the ability to influence political discourse and challenge contemporary perceptions of violence!