I remember heading out for the inaugural all-night contemporary art festival 10 years ago with the rain coming down yet the art-loving crowds still ventured out. That year, the most memorable exhibit for me was a walk through one section of the University of Toronto, there was a fog machine, it was raining and the imagery was so mysterious and beautiful. I loved that experience because, to me, it felt like the real art lovers were braving the weather to go out all night to enjoy some culture.
Nuit Blanche has changed quite a bit since 2005. The crowd size has gotten larger (probably piquing a few years ago), drunker (
also probably piquing a few years ago I take that back. This was written before hearing about the violence & chaos at Yonge & Dundas this year.), and the different zones have come and gone. No longer did the event take over Liberty Village or go right down Yonge Street. Whether it was the weather or the novelty that deterred people from coming out this October 3rd, it definitely felt less chaotic than previous years.
I’d also maybe attribute that to the fact that there seemed to be significantly fewer exhibits this year, and much more spread out. We covered almost 8km on foot for 5.5 hours, spanning the boundaries of Bathurst, Dundas, Bay and Queen’s Quay and felt like we saw very little. Many exhibits that were said to be at a location, thanks to the map, were not very well marked. We saw no marking for #98 Consumption Overload at The Thompson Hotel, and of the four that were supposed to be at Bathurst & Dundas, we only saw #85 Ghost Van.
Funny enough, the exhibit that I enjoyed the most wasn’t even one of the “official” Scotiabank Nuit Blanche ones. It was On Tilt, the big inflatable flailing arm guys Much dance party in their parking lot at Queen & John. In collaboration with MuchFACT, supporting Canadian music.
— Michele (@JustALilLost) October 4, 2015
A lot of the listed snbTO exhibits we passed had lines out the door, which we weren’t in the mood to spend the night doing. We made our way over to Nathan Phillips Square to see #13 & 14 Inside Out, where people took their pics in a photo booth had them printed out and pasted in a design on the ground outside City Hall. The ramp that overlooks this area provided a beautiful view. Right along the side, if you followed your nose, you would come to #114 There Is No Away, a statement on how much waste we all discard (oh, the smell. It was definitely real trash used!) We stumbled across #106 Where Am I From? in Trinity Square, tucked away by the Eaton Centre and tried to find #112 The Lovers of the River Almonda which, once we finally found it, also could have used some better signage outside.
After a brief refuelling and warm-up we wandered down Bay, discovering Boom 97.3’s unofficial exhibit of a whole lot of old boomboxes which was fun to see. The crowds were circling #39 Light Cave but, for me, it seemed more spectacular a sight from across the street than up close. #17 & #18 Les Bosquets was a bit of a confusion. There were dividers on the sidewalk (with no signage at the divide!) so a lot of people walking along didn’t realize they were being corralled into an 80 minute film, which many – when realizing – turned back around. However, the video being projected on the outside of the building was really cool.
Finally making our way to Union Station, and slowly fading, we saw #111 Pattern Study, one of the ones I really wanted to find. We also saw the long line for #117 Domestic motion and said no thanks. I’d also like to add that while the rain thankfully held off, the wind certainly did not.
So our next (and last) stop was The Work of Wind area down by the Harbourfront and boy was that appropriately named. We were definitely being moved by the wind and I had legitimate fears of my phone flying out of my hand when I tried to take pictures. After a brief wander through and seeing more lines for exhibits, and another inflatable flailing tubes in the Power Plant building we finally decided to call it a night.
— Michele (@JustALilLost) October 4, 2015
Speaking with friends, it seems many are of the same consensus that this year felt like there wasn’t much to see. In previous years, areas were packed with more exhibits in closer proximity, but we definitely spent more time walking around and getting to the places only to find the long lines for said exhibit, or not even being able to locate it. I think because there were fewer exhibits, it caused the back-up with the lines because that’s the only thing people were there in that area to see. There also seemed to be more corporate-sponsored exhibits this year, which I don’t remember noticing in the past. Some of the most memorable and interesting art pieces we saw weren’t even the ones that were “officially” part of the program. At times, I wondered if Nuit Blanche has gotten too big that some have lost sight of what it’s supposed to be about.