Nuit Blanche Guide: 10 must-see spectacles

Nuit Blanche Guide: 10 must-see spectacles

Overwhelmed by the prospect of navigating Nuit Blanche’s 12-hour downtown art party? Don’t be. Here’s an insider’s guide to the top 10 spectacles on October 2, mapped for your convenience. Read about each of our picks after the jump.

1. Interactive Landscape Dune
Usually off-limits, Lower Bay Station has been the site of some of Nuit Blanche’s most eerie work. This year, Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde turns the subway station into a spooky interactive light sculpture that alters dramatically in shape according to the behaviour of the audience. Screaming encouraged. Lower Bay Station.

2. Monument to Smile
First displayed at the Rockefeller Center, Agnès Winter’s massive video projection finds a somewhat more prosaic home on the façade of Holts. At the Paris-based artist’s request, OCAD students took 250 photos of beaming Torontonians, and the results form a shifting mosaic, accompanied by the Charlie Chaplin song “Smile.” It puts even the most elaborate Christmas window display to shame. Holt Renfrew Centre.

(Top: Endgame By Max Streicher; bottom: Auto Lamp by Kim H. Adams) 

3. Later That Night at the Drive-In
When Kiss sang “I wanna rock and roll all night,” they definitely didn’t have Daniel Lanois in mind. But that’s exactly what the art rocker is doing in this multimedia, multi-channel sound-and-light extravaganza. CanCon bonus: at midnight, Neil Young nuts get the chance to hear four new songs from his latest album, which Lanois is producing. Nathan Phillips Square.

4. Nuit Market Starring the Toronto Weston Flea Market
Mammalian Diving Reflex was behind one of the most beloved performances—an all-ages dance party in a gym full of rubber balls—at the inaugural Nuit Blanche in 2006. This time around, the avant-garde performance company (joined by vendors from the Toronto Weston Flea Market) transforms an alley near Ryerson into a bustling night market replete with bargains, services (on-the-spot teeth whitening) and cheap food. Victoria Street lane.

5. Reunion
In 1968, Ryerson and the Isaacs Gallery teamed up for a night of exceptional art and chess—games were played on a wired-up board that switched eight compositions on and off, depending on a participant’s move—starring John Cage and Marcel Duchamp, among others. Now, on the same stage, a dozen artists who knew or were influenced by those two titans (including original attendees Gordon Mumma and David Behr­man) gather for a redo. Ryerson Theatre.

6. Performance Café with Perforated Sides
For decades, conceptual artist Dan Graham has been building playful architectural environments composed of semi-reflective glass, stainless steel and mirrors. There are about 50 of his public pavilions around the world, and this newest one, with its two-way mirrored glass and moiré patterns, gives visitors to city hall’s green roof a trippy, vertiginous experience. City Hall.

7. Dance With Me
L.A. artist Kianga Ford encourages Toronto to shake its collective booty in a piece that both highlights the diversity of the city (a salsa can segue into a waltz into a reel into a tarantella, depending on the partner) and the ever-complicated jig between strangers. And you thought Step Up 3D was interactive. The Atrium on Bay.

8. Erik Satie’s Vexations
Experimental composer Martin Arnold takes Satie’s brief, notoriously difficult composition and performs it with an accompanist on two separate pianos 840 times. In turn, the compulsively prolific Micah Lexier transforms 840 copies of the score into paper sculptures. Brookfield Place.

9. Auto Lamp
Playfully deconstructed vehicles of all kinds feature prominently in Kim Adams’ work. In this rotating sculpture, a white Dodge Ram van is shot through with holes—a sort of vehicular doily—through which light pours out. Stare at it long enough and it becomes a lighthouse, a  mobile, and an oversized Christmas ornament. Yonge south of Queen Street.

10. Endgame (Coulrophobia)
You think one clown is scary? How about two enormous inflatable clown heads stuck between two buildings? This Max Streicher installation consists of vinyl recycled from billboards and transformed into balloon-like noggins whose expressions, thanks to varying air pressure, shift from the ghoulish to the (sort of) delightful. Alleyway between 67 and 69 Yonge Street.