Nuit Blanche transforms Toronto

(Ryan Hueglin -- Photography Manager)

(Ryan Hueglin — Photography Manager)

While the thought of spending all night staring at large art exhibits may not sound like everyone’s idea of a good time, Scotiabank’s Nuit Blanche—now in its eighth year—has proven that these people are in the vast minority.

Nuit Blanche is an all night interactive art exhibit in Toronto. Its breadth covers from Front Street to around Queen’s Park, with some exhibits as far as St. Clair.

This year, over 100 various art exhibits could be found around the city, ranging from the more “conventional” art, such as statues, to more “avant-garde” art, such as a five hour meditation session put on by beekeepers in the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO).

Various Nuit Blanche’s are hosted all over the world, including many Canadian cities such as Montreal and Ottawa.

Running for one night only on  October 6, starting at 6:51 p.m. to sunrise on Sunday October 7, Nuit Blanche gives Torontonians and people from the surrounding area the chance to experience a night of heightened culture.

However, this year did not come without problems.

The streets were bustling with people, as everyone jammed themselves into the normally spacious streets, which created a claustrophobic effect. This was to be expected and seasoned Nuit Blanche attendees beat out the rush by showing up in the middle of the night.
Some attendees did not have the same respect for the festival as most of the patrons. At Clothesline Canopy, an exhibit featuring 5,000 socks on multiple clotheslines which would

then be donated to homeless centres, reported that attendees had been stealing socks. They temporarily closed the exhibit after 1,500 socks were reported missing.
The most horrific events came to light the night after Nuit Blanche as various Toronto newspapers reported that two stabbings had occurred during the night long festivities. While one attendee sustained non–life threatening injuries, 19 year old Rameez Khalid died earlier this weekend due to complications from a wound.

(Ryan Hueglin -- Photography Manager)

(Ryan Hueglin — Photography Manager)

Despite these blemishes, Nuit Blanche otherwise went off without a hitch.

This year, the exhibits were a well-blended mix of sculptures, mixed media and various interactive pieces.

The night was separated into three sections: Off to a Flying Start, which was mostly downtown and featured the largest exhibits, PARADE, a non-moving parade inspired exhibits, and Romancing the Anthropocene, exhibits focused on man and his relationship with environment.

One of the most popular exhibits was Ai Wei Wei’s Forever Bicycle. In the middle of Nathan Phillips Square 3,144 interconnected bicycles were stacked on top of one another in an intricate manner to form a three-dimensional effect. There were spots to walk through the statue which only added to the overwhelming effect the sculpture had on its audience. Ai Wei Wei’s work will be in Nathan Phillips until October 27.

The exhibits from University Avenue to Queen’s Park, which fell under the PARADE theme, were particularly captivating.

Towards the end of the road, one exhibit entitled Queen of the Parade featured a 20-foot depiction of the stereotypical parade queen featuring a large, full skirt with a pre-recorded video of a woman wearing high heels and garters “walking” along the street.

Another exhibit further down, entitled Ferris Wheel, is exactly what it sounds like: a giant Ferris wheel with neon lighting interwoven through the beams.

Katharine Harvey, the artist behind Ferris Wheel, is inspired by the carnival atmosphere.

“I’d been photographing midway rides because I like to do paintings on blurring lines at night, creating a magical sensation … I thought I’d try to create a midway ride like the ones I’ve seen and the ones I’ve painted,” Harvey explained about her influences.

Harvey, who previously was featured in 2008’s Nuit Blanche, is thrilled at the growth and development the festival has seen throughout five years.

“It’s getting much more popular which I think is fabulous … it’s a very European thing to have [this] walking street [art],” added Harvey.

If you missed Nuit Blanche this year, there are numerous exhibits, such as The rose is without why and Tanks that will be up throughout October.

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