Since we completely bailed on our Toronto friends early in September when we altered our plans to visit and went instead to Syracuse we decided to make it up with a whirlwind visit this past weekend.
The hub of the visit would be Nuit Blanche – an all-night event celebrating culture and art in every form imaginable, and exploring different uses for the urban landscape at hand. From 7 pm until 7 am on Saturday night/Sunday morning, downtown Toronto was bustling with spectators winding their way through the streets from Yorkville to Queen West, looking for paintings, sculptures, sound installations, sculptures, video projections, dances, games, readings, and pillow fights (more on that later) to name just a few. There was so much to see – too much for any one person – and all for free!
Our group grabbed a nap in the late afternoon, then grabbed a bite in Chinatown and headed off to prowl the night. We found some really entertaining stuff – like readings of bedtime tales accompanied by hot cocoa and cookies! We found or a huge speaker-like installation that you could walk on, creating your own sound sculpture. We found a few installations that just made us scratch our heads and say: This is art?!
Some of the installations were just creepy – the most obvious example being a woman asleep in a small plexiglass case in the middle of a parking lot. We couldn’t bring ourselves to take a picture – but so many people were just getting right in close for a real good gawk.
There was an installation of 68 tents filled with personal effects of mental health patients; another eerie installation meant to explore the issues surrounding current mental health legislation. It made for a lovely photo though.
We traveled further afield – using a set of themed buses to get us across downtown Toronto. We didn’t ever find the clothing-swap bus mentioned in the Nuit Blanche program, but we did hitch a ride on a bus whose interior was covered in mirrored mylar. THat was kind of trippy.
Our group of friends gradually dwindled away. Members of our troupe lasted until anywhere between midnight and 2:30 am, but a few of us managed to keep going until 4:30 am. The weather was iffy, but nothing an umbrella couldn’t keep at bay. A good sleep until nearly noon left us refreshed and ready for the trip home.
We were surprised at the turnout too. If this happened in Ottawa, you wouldn’t get that kind of interest. We’ll definitely keep it in mind for another trip next year.