The concept of Nuit Blanche which means White Night or Sleepless Night, though relatively new in Toronto, originated in Nantes, France in 1989. Following the first Nuit Blanche in Paris in 2002, it spread to many cities across the globe. In Toronto, it is usually held on the last Saturday of September or the first Saturday of October and yesterday, September 28, was the date of the 2012 event.
It was a balmy evening, perfect for strolling around and the first installation we saw was right across the street from us in Bickford Park where the ground glittered with tiny lights. Named ‘Glow in the Park’ by Jaclyn Blumas and Robert Cram, each light was a table tennis ball containing a tiny LED light. Children were running around throwing the balls around and screeching with pleasure. While this was an independent project produced by Heretical Objects, an artists co-operative, City Hall and around was the scene of commissioned installations featuring creativity and crisis. In Nathan Phillips Square in front of City Hall a video installation ‘Life Without Sun’ by Christine Davis featured six enormous concave screens showing simultaneous scenes of life forms on the edge of oblivion or renewal.
Creativity was certainly in evidence not only in the installations but also amongst the viewers who had come out in full force many bearing or dressed with their own artistic creations like this neon lit cyclist who we photographed as he was going by was an installation ‘ Invisible Streams: As above, so below’ featuring undulating neon lights by Alfred Engerer. The streets were packed, everybody enjoying, viewing, and interacting with the installations where possible.
One installation, I thought was really cool was ‘All Night Convenience’ by Rhonda Weppler and Trevor Mahovsky which featured a convenience store where each item on the shelf was lit up by a small internal LED light so that it glowed. People who entered the store were allowed to pick an item of their choice so that as the night progressed, the store shelves emptied and the store got darker and darker much as the city does over the night. We ourselves faded as the night progressed and even though we hadn’t been able to see even half of what we wanted, we returned home at 1.30am. Bickford Park was still glowing in the dark but by now, people had made designs on the grass with the lights, others were juggling with them, some had attached them to their bicycle spokes and were whizzing around the park and some were gathering together and throwing them high in the sky at a given signal so that it looked like a shower of fire-works. A fine ending to a fine night. Thank you to the curators of Nuit Blanche Toronto, 2012!