What to expect at this year's Nuit Blanche art festival
Published Thursday, September 27, 2012 11:32PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, September 29, 2012 7:35PM EDT
Art will flood downtown Toronto streets Saturday evening for the seventh-annual Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, which runs until sunrise.
More than 500 artists will take part in the celebration that will allow visitors to choose from 150 free and accessible projects spread across various “zones.”
While most artists spend more than a year creating their pieces, installation only begins on Friday night, giving the city less than a day to pull it together.
“It’s a large-scale conversation to put Nuit Blanche together, that’s why you need that time,” said Shauna McCabe, who curates Zone A.
The event will kick off on Saturday at 7:03 p.m. and continue through the night for 12 hours.
“Ironically it gives you a great sense of freedom to conceive of a work only intended to last one night,” said Julian Fleath, program manager of special events at the city of Toronto.
This year the city is anticipating more than a million people will take part in the event.
According to Fleath, the event itself is changing. While the event garnered a huge following from Toronto and the GTA, the last two to three years saw a growing number of tourists flocking to the city.
In a new twist this year, an exhibit specifically designed for City Hall will be presented by curators Janine Marchessault and Michael Prokopow. The two came forward nearly three years ago with the proposal, “The Museum for the end of the World,” which will finally debut this year.
The event, which began in 2006, has hosted more than 3,000 artists and poured more than $100 million into the local economy, according to a statement released by the City of Toronto.
The TTC will also extend its nighttime service for certain routes including the Bloor-Danforth subway that will run from Keele to Woodbine stations. The Yonge-University lines will open from St. Clair West to Eglington Stations until 7:00 a.m.
McCabe hopes this event will engage the public in contemporary art.
“It really reminds that art is part of the everyday experience. That is definitely something people can really take away with them,” said McCabe.
To help Torontonians navigate the mass of artistic pieces, check out the guide below to match your interests with some notable works:
For people who fear the end of the world:
Located in the unassuming Toronto City Hall underground parking garage, several artists will interpret their idea of the End -- be it apocalypse, unstoppable pandemics or other ideas for a forthcoming doomsday. Popular artist and writer Douglas Coupland, known for such novels as “Generation X,” will be featured here. His interpretation plays off the religious notion of the Rapture as visitors pass through a maze of signage and living tableaux.
Toronto City Hall underground parking garage, 100 Queen Street West
This exhibit should be considered edible:
“Throw-up” is a street term that describes quickly executed graffiti art. It’s also the idea behind the similarly titled installation from Montreal’s Shelley Miller. Miller will stash the spray-paint in favour of edible icing to make graffiti-like works on the wall and other on-site creations. Expect yourself to be salivating after getting a glance of this.
Metro Hall, 55 John Street (Viewable from King Street West, east of John Street).
Most likely to spot a celebrity here:
If seeking out some leftover TIFF stardom consider these two exhibits. The first comes from the minds of Toronto`s Faisal Anwar and Siobhan O`Flynn to form “+city.” The interactive installation will use ideas generated by the Twitter hashtags #snbTO and #pluscityTO to spark a series of improvisational sketches led by Second City performers. The event listing says to expect featured celebrity guests. For fans of vloggers and other online personalities, head to “TIFF” for a live interactive show that features a new E-lebrity guest every hour, bringing YouTube to life.
+city: Metro Hall, Rotunda, 55 John Street
TIFF: TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King Street West
For those seeking a brain teaser:
Three separate exhibits will have visitors scratching their heads, and possibly enduring head pain. Aman Sandhu`s “re-” will invite visitors to watch three speed-cubers solve a Rubik’s cube continuously throughout the night. Over at Wall Spray, stone workers and graffiti artists will compete in the never-ending building of a wall. If tying and untying knots sounds appealing, join artist Swapnaa Tamhane at “The Institute of Knots.”
Re-: Harry Rosen Display Case at First Canadian Place, 100 King Street West
Wall Spray: Woolfit’s Art Supplies, 1153 Queen Street West
The Institute of Knots: Courtyard of MOCCA, 952 Queen Street West
Where to embrace your inner child:
This art piece doesn’t require much explanation other than this: a 12-hour glitter cyclone that will mirror the excitement and busyness of the city.
“One Hundred Pounds of Glitter”: Queen Street West and Noble Street, project is in cube moving trucks.
For those who still watch Survivor:
One artist is challenging a group to see how far they will go for $500. The artist will be inviting a group of people to stand in the cold with one of their hands on a stationary van to compete for the money inside, in the appropriately titled “Hands on the Van.”
Queen Street West & Brock Avenue
Most dedicated to reliving the “good old days”:
Long before Xbox and Wii hit the mainstream, 80s videogames such as the ones made by iconic developer Tomohiro Nishikado were at the forefront of modern gaming. In a throwback to an era of early technology, visitors can come see these early techno Martians light up the night in this specialized light installation by Yves Caizergues titled “Green Invaders” Or travel forward a bit in time and visitors can submerse themselves in a 1994 Toronto dance party scene. Relive the days of dance culture, escapism and consumption from suburban Toronto in “416-788-9663.”
Green Invaders: Sun Life Financial Tower, 150 King Street West
416-788-9663: Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen Street West
This will get you moving:
If the night takes a cold, slow pace, head to “All Together Now.” Be prepared to shake it and get moving at this interactive dance exhibit. Over the course of 12 hours, a different style of dance will be taught each hour by professional instructors in the field. Everything from hip hop to tai chi will be brought to the space where artists say “movement is the message.”
Richmond Adelaide Centre, 111 Richmond Street West
For 15 minutes of fame:
Historic Campbell House Museum will get a new look for the evening as it’s transformed into a 1970s style sports arena for the night. Artists will take the simple act of “high-fiving” and turn it into a professional sporting event. For one night visitors will be able to act out their dream of being a professional “high-fiver” complete with nicknames and bragging rights.
High-five championship: 160 Queen Street West
Good tunes here:
The Royal Conservatory will team up with visual artists in this hybrid presentation of art and music. Artists will take to the stage to create new works live on stage while some of Toronto’s finest musicians perform in the background.
TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning, 273 Bloor Street West
Best exhibits for action-movie lovers:
Having the ability to fly is something many have dreamed of. For one night, dreams like this are a little closer to reality with the help of the “The Jelly Bean Machine.” The machine will dispense jelly beans with super human traits inscribed on them. Your dream of being Superman might not be too far-fetched anymore with the help of a magic bean. If this isn`t enough of a thrill, head to “The day after, tomorrow” to watch a mass collection of cinematic fires, floods, earthquakes and more tear up the screens in this video installation. Even better, the clips are arranged geographically, so you can watch the world explode simultaneously.
Jelly Bean Machine: Yonge-Dundas AMC, 10 Dundas Street East
The Day After, Tomorrow: King James Place, 145 King Street East
Fans of the newsroom will enjoy this:
Two broadcasters, John Thompson and Jack Ward, will be your sole proprietors of news for the evening. In a simulated event where they are the only two sources of information left as the sky falls, they will broadcast throughout the night bringing you “the news that matters most.” The installation is listed as performance art but visitors will have the chance to add to the newsreel by submitting reports by phone or mail.
The evening news (Small craft warnings): Berczy Park, 35 Welling Street East
Too cold or lazy? This one can be experienced from home:
Two young men will race to witness every exhibit at Nuit Blanche within the 12-hour timeframe. While the performance art piece has a listed location, the two men will also use the Twitter hashtag #racingforeverything to track their progress. So if the cold hits or your legs get tired, watch someone else run the course from your computer.
Nuit Blanche Survey and Critical Race: Courthouse Square, 10 Court Street
For a full list of exhibits visit this website. On the night of, follow the Twitter handle @sbnuitblancheTO or the hashtag #snbTO.