Saturday, September 26, 2009

Nuit Blanche

Next Saturday night art lovers and merry-makers alike get to stay up all night as our City transforms itself and many of its public (and not so public) spaces into backdrops for contemporary visual art (with just a touch of performance/participation art to add spice). It is the 12 hour night of celebration called Nuit Blanche.

I cannot do a better justice to the description of Nuit Blanche than provided in its 2009 Web Site from which I have taken the following:

Nuit Blanche was originally conceived in Paris, France in 2002, in an attempt to bring contemporary art to the masses in public spaces. Now universally translated as 'Sleepless Night', Nuit Blanche brings more than a million people to the streets of Paris every year. In 2005, Paris organizers contacted the City of Toronto's Special Events office with an invitation to join the ranks of approximately six other European cities producing similar all-night events. The international success of Nuit Blanche continues to build each year and has expanded its reach beyond Paris to Brussels, Rome, Bucharest, Riga, Madrid, La Valette, Portugal, Tokyo, Montreal and Leeds - each offering its own version of the all-night art extravaganza.

Toronto was the first North American city to fully replicate the Paris model, and has inspired similar celebrations throughout North America, including San Francisco, New York, Miami and Chicago.

At its core, Nuit Blanche is a 12-hour event with a mandate to make contemporary art accessible to large audiences, while inspiring dialogue and engaging the public to examine its significance and impact on public space. Nuit Blanche is both a "high art" event and a free populous event that encourages celebration and community engagement. From sunset to sunrise city spaces and neighbourhoods are transformed into temporary exhibitions. Unusual or forbidden spaces become sites of contemporary art open for all-night discovery and rediscovery. Cultural institutions, from museums to galleries to artist run centres, open their doors and offer free access to contemporary art. The everyday is suspended as the city's landscape is changed to welcome a variety of artistic experiences.

I attended last year's Nuit Blanche and enjoyed every minute of it. In a way, the art takes a 2nd place to the atmosphere. For the most part exhibits are outdoors and it is night. The crowds are thick (at least in the first 6 hours - I confess I did not stay out all night- and it is a party atmosphere. It reminds me a little bit like Halloween as everyone is out wandering around in the dark and what we see in the way of these works is often way out there - entirely out of the ordinary. I think in some ways these works stretch the definition of art. However I remind myself that these are created with no utilitarian purpose in mind - the works are designed only to elicit some response from the observer, so it must be considered art, in its more broad definition. I daresay, there are always admirers of the most "out there" pieces and who am I to judge what is and what is not art?

Regardless, it is a fun night and there are lots of interesting things to see!

In any case, as I said, I attended last year and have included some of my last year's snaps in this blog.

For me, this is another perq of living in Liberty Village, as I am in the heart of "Zone C" - one of the three areas in the City which serves as a focal point for many of the installations. There are over 130 exhibits and 36 of these are within my neighbourhood - Liberty Village.

I am busy tonight planning my route - there are some neat tools at the Nuit Blanche web site - and it is interesting to review the various installations which are planned and press the "add to my itinerary" button to ensure I have my route planned out well in advance.

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