Nuit Blanche 2011 guide: what to wait for and what to avoid at Toronto’s all-night art crawl

Nuit Blanche 2011 guide: what to wait for and what to avoid at Toronto’s all-night art crawl

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Nuit Blanche is upon us this weekend, which means revellers will be wandering the streets into the wee hours of the morning. The arty fun starts at 6:59 p.m. on October 1 (when the sun goes down) and continues until sunrise on October 2 (which, according to our research, is approximately 7:16 a.m.); this means planning accordingly for midnight crowds and late-night installation viewing (and, of course, snacks and drinks). We recommend what to see and what to skip from zones A, B and C after the jump.

Zone A

Rating Legend

5 – Make 7 a.m. brunch reservations
4 – Your hour-long wait is almost justified
3 – Worth a peek after 4 a.m.
2 – Drop by if all the cool exhibitions have lines
1 – Better off sleeping

(Image: Chris Shepherd) 

Zone A considers “historic moments and examines the concepts of revolution and utopia.” As a curatorial collection entitled Restaging the Encounter, this zone explores temporality; it aims to blur the boundaries between fiction and reality by reimagining the city as a social space where participants engage with past and present histories. We’re not exactly sure what that means, but we’ve listed some essential (and not-so-essential) viewing for the area between St. Clair Avenue West and Rushton Road, extending just south of College Street and over to Yonge Street (with an outlier or two in the mix).


(Image: Copyright AES+F 2009-2011. Courtesy of Triumph Gallery, Moscow) 

The Feast of Trimalchio by AES+F
Location: northeast corner of Queen’s Park
Based on The Feast of Trimalchio from Petronius’s Satyricon, this video installation reimagines the character of Trimalchio—the former slave and nouveau riche host of multi-day feasts—as a space. Here, Trimalchio becomes a luxurious hotel where guests (called masters) and servants engage in hedonistic pursuits, projected as a panoramic video installation comprised of more than 70,000 still images.
Rating: 3


(Image: Richard Purdy) 

L’écho-l’eau by Richard Purdy
Location: MaRs Building, 101 College St. (east of University Avenue)

We’re all for tactile exhibits that physically engage participants with the installation; Richard Purdy’s reincarnation of a Canadian log run is a perfect example. Don rain gear, boots and an umbrella or go barefoot through the one centimetre of water flooding the exhibition floor, and experience the miroir d’eau (reflections in the water that encourage participants to see upside-down, right-side up).
Rating: 4


(Image: Karen Henderson) 

Slow Falls Rising by Karen Henderson
Location: Victoria University, U of T campus (south of Charles Street, east of Queen’s Park)
Artist Karen Henderson offers an installation that continuously loops video of Niagara Falls flowing slowly upwards. We understand that sitting and watching the hypnotic water defy gravity might be a nice escape for the exhausted Nuit Blanche trekker, but if it is busy and loud, we’ll skip the falls in favour of more dynamic installations.
Rating:
1


Artscape Wychwood Barns programming: Sonic Spaces (the kinetics of sound) and Audio Graffiti by Shawn Pinchbeck, Zack Settel and Mike Wozniewski
Location: NAISA Space and Theatre Direct’s Christie Studio, 601 Christie St.
These Artscape Wychwood Barns installations deal with aural traces of physical movement—Sonic Spaces transforms a participant’s movement into a sound installation, while Audio Graffiti encourages participants to “record” a sound on a wall, then experience the “sonic texture” the wall has to offer. Okay.
Rating: 3


Silent Music by Akira Hasegawa and Ivo Videnov
Location: Casa Loma stables, 328 Walmer Rd.

This live light installation uses a new medium called Digital Kakejiku, in which light is used on the side of buildings to create an abstract image, almost like a painting. Silent Music was inspired by the creation of the universe and explores the connection between colour and sound. We’ll make the trip, not only to see the light show, but to refamiliarize ourselves with Casa Loma’s grounds.
Rating: 4

Check out Zone B »

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Zone B

Rating Legend

5 – Make 7 a.m. brunch reservations
4 – Your hour-long wait is almost justified
3 – Worth a peek after 4 a.m.
2 – Drop by if all the cool exhibitions have lines
1 – Better off sleeping

(Image: Chris Shepherd) 

Zone B’s theme is The Future of the Present, examining the movement of technology through the spiritual, material and social spheres. Most of the exhibits are bordered by Gerrard Street East, Church Street, Queen Street East and University Avenue.


(Image: Ken Rinaldo) 

Face Music/Paparazzi Bots by Ken Rinaldo
Location: Yonge-Dundas Square
A group of robots take photographs of participants, map their features and generate a “face song” unique to each person, hopefully turning out more Vivaldi than Marilyn Manson. This exhibit is a companion to the equally intriguing Paparazzi Bots, which goes on across the street in the Eaton Centre.
Rating: 5


(Image: Ian Grindall) 

The Heart Machine by Christine Irving
Location: Parking lot at 640 Bay St. (Between Elm and Edward streets)
The Heart Machine premiered at Burning Man in 2010; this exhibition consists of 16-foot columns that, when touched, spout flames 25 feet high. It’s supposed to represent the arteries of a heart and reflect the interplay between man, city and technology, but we doubt people will ponder such complexities once the first pigeon gets roasted.
Rating: 3


(Image: Alexis Mitchell and Sharlene Bamboat) 

Border Sounds by Alexis Mitchell and Sharlene Bamboa
Location: Atrium on Bay Underground Parking Lot P1, 40 Dundas St. W.
The music in this “silent disco” is played only through everyone’s headphones, leaving people dancing to what is, externally, complete silence. More contemplative clubbers can consider the implications of modern border politics while they jam.
Rating: 4


(Image: Bill Burns) 

The Dogs and Boats and Airplanes Choir by Bill Burns
Location: Atrium on Bay, 595 Bay St. at Dundas St. W.
Chorister and professional sadist Bill Burns will subject listeners to a cacophony comprised of noises from the three titular sources. The fact that the music is created and performed by children does not inspire confidence.
Rating: 1

Check out Zone C »

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Rating Legend

5 – Make 7 a.m. brunch reservations
4 – Your hour-long wait is almost justified
3 – Worth a peek after 4 a.m.
2 – Drop by if all the cool exhibitions have lines
1 – Better off sleeping

Zone C

(Image: Chris Shepherd) 

Zone C is intended to transform Toronto’s Financial District by offering modes of community involvement and organization that “invert… the symbolic language of corporate capitalism.” Curator Nicholas Brown locates these exhibits in the aftermath of the G20, where artists work together to create an otherworldly encounter. The zone extends from Church Street in the east down to Front Street, over to O’Hara Avenue in the west end and just below College Street West.


(Image: Basil AlZeri) 

The Free Shop by Basil AlZeri
Location: TTC bus shelter on Bay Street, south of King Street West
What caught our attention about this installation is the chance to interact one-on-one with the artist in question. Basil AlZeri’s installation is predicated on the fact that he will be on site all night: having lost nearly all his belongings in a fire on January 6, 2010, AlZeri began to question our society’s material attachments. The installation, designed as a shop, displays the items that survived the fire as well as new ones he has acquired. Participants are encouraged to ask questions and even choose one item they believe they need.
Rating: 2


Out of Site: All Night with Mike Hansen by Mike Hansen
Location: Tequila Bookworm, 512 Queen St. W.
Host Mike Hansen’s 12-hour long webcast is essentially a performance piece that spoofs the classic late-night talk show format: Hansen will interview audience members for up to 15 minutes and ask participants to play games in reward for trinkets. We’d like too see how chipper this guy is after hour eight of the 12-hour stretch.
Rating: 4


TIFF Movie Studio Playhouse by Shane Smith, Noah Cowan, Ana Serrano and Jacqueline Nuwame in conjunction with CFC New Media and TIFF
Location: TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W.
On top of its regular Nuit Blanche programming, TIFF is offering the chance to take part in an interactive group art project. Participants can act in spontaneous films using props and costumes. The resulting short projects will be projected on the Bell Lightbox atrium wall.
Rating: 3


A Brief History of Rebellion by Sam Sutherland, Ashley Carter and Aaron Zorgel
Location: Toronto Underground Cinema, 186 Spadina Ave.
This performance pieces involves a group of musicians playing Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” 144 consecutive times over the course of the night. The artists ask the question, “Have you ever listened to a song so many times it loses all form and meaning?” Well, after Nuit Blanche, we surely will have. The exhibit promises local “celebrities” and musicians participating over the course of the night, but we’re not sure that’s enough to spend the next several weeks cursing this ’90s anthem as it loops in our head.
Rating: 1


The Happiness Project: In the House by Artist Bloc
Location: Oz Studios, 134 Ossington Ave.
Conveniently located near some of the best breakfast places in town (Mitzi’s, Swan and Aunties and Uncles, to name a few), this is the perfect late-night stop. Inspired by Charles Spearin’s award-winning album The Happiness Project—Spearin is a member of both Broken Social Scene and Do Make Say Think—the exhibit consists of sound recordings of Spearin’s neighbours’ musings on happiness—set to orchestral music—that plays as participants wander through the carefully designed space. Each room in the exhibit is intended to reflect one of the tracks on the album.
Rating: 5