Toronto is possibly one of my favourite cities in the world, art and culture always beautiful and diverse around the streets. This past month I found myself in the city on a self-guided tour, dragging my mother along, getting us lost in order to kill time in anticipation for the evening. Toronto was holding its annual Nuit Blanche. I had never been and decided I may as well see what all the hype was about.
The entire street is blocked off and the art is scattered throughout the city. Queen street becomes one giant block party from 7pm to 7am, and it’s wonderful…the people that is. The art is up for interpretation. It is contemporary modern art, and much like jazz, which means nothing to most people, it’s celebrated by the haughty few who want to be different from the majority.
Due to the nature of the event, the amount of art I got to see was limited to Queen Street. Art events were installed all the way to Scarborough, the streets were definitely more alive downtown. There were huge half-hour lines from food trucks, to exhibits, and everything else in between.
Here are a few photos of the pieces I saw that evening.
Life’s little worries of Sir Adam Beck
By Tatzu Nishi
Tatzu Nishi is known for his installation art often incorporating monuments and other significant historical figures and buildings, often stacking objects and building around them. His work was really interesting and impressive to see in person.
Do Angels Exist
By Nadine Bariteau
My personal favourite piece of the night. Bariteau, who is also an installation artist, created a kinetic sculpture piece of luminescent wings with the purpose to create the effect for the public to feel in touch with the natural world in the downtown streets of Toronto. The wings resemble butterfly/ dragonfly wings and maple tree helicopter seeds.
The artist, after losing her mother in a fatal accident, had been questioning ideas of loss and grief. She hopes her art will provoke the public to think and ask the question “Do Angels Exist?”
Radical Histories 2012-2018
By Ibrahim Mahama
This piece sent chills running down my spine. The giant wall was made of jute bags used by people in Ghana to transport goods. It casts a light on the hardship these people go through and forces you to look at the scale at which poverty exists. “They tell of the hands that lifted them and the products they held as they were carried between ports, warehouses, markets and cities,” says the artist. “They tell of the condition of the people who are trapped by those places, and the places themselves.”
Curated by Karen Alexander
This was a sound and video installation that was set in City Hall. The combination of spoken word, music, graphics animation and images highlighted the key phrase “you are city hall, my people”. The combination of loud music and slam poetry along with a hypnotizing visual creates an intense and colourful atmosphere. The purpose of the piece was to call attention to civic politics and remind everyone that each citizen has a responsibility for the actions of the government.
There were mixed reviews on the event because the art was so scattered and the ad placement seemed more prominent than past years.
That being said, the ads did fit the theme, for example, an ad for INFINITI cars used led lights that mirrored people onto the car.
There was also a huge event and hot air balloon sponsored by Hendrick’s Gin, which sadly I was denied access to because I’m underaged, but it seemed to be quite the crowd pleaser.
Of course, a lot of the hype of the event comes from the people who are out drinking and having their own party in the streets with performers. It’s definitely not the most family-friendly event, but it does make for a great night out of art and culture.