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Ma Nuit Blanche

Monday, October 2, 2006


I will without hesitation declare the first-ever Nuit Blanche Toronto an unmitigated success. I had been worried that the rain might keep people away, but by 10:00 (the festivities started at 7:00) the skies had cleared and thousands of people were flooding into the streets to take it all in. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, do some catch-up here.

Now, obviously with such a huge event — three ‘zones’ encompassing roughly an area from Davenport in the north to the Gardiner in the south, Jarvis in the east to Dufferin in the west — it’s impossible to see everything, and therefore I can only speak to my experience. But most of what I saw, and the energy this event created, I thought very impressive.

My Nuit Blanche began at the University Settlement House in Grange Park with Darren O’Donnell’s Ballroom Dancing, an “all-ages dance party . . . for children and adults to play together all night long in a room filled with thousands of rubber balls.” Everyone seemed to be having a good time, but it was very hot in the gymnasium and we weren’t really dressed for an all-night dance party so we quickly skipped out. We headed over to the Zone B Information Hub in Butterfield Park underneath the quirky extravagance that is OCAD’s Sharp Centre for Design, where people were playing Twister and an inflatable game of chess. We crept inside to find a video installation featuring heroin-chic models existing in a world of grainy film and post-modern malaise, peeing themselves and licking each other’s eyeballs (sorry, but I didn’t get the name of the artist — my bad).

dsc00153.JPG OCAD Chess dsc00156.JPG

It was at this point that I realized just how well Nuit Blanche was going; as we walked up to Innis College for the next batch of videos, we passed groups of people everywhere, either watching the stick-and-bells guys dance, or moving in and out of galleries, or just milling around on the sidewalk, taking a breather. At Innis we took in a few offerings from Cinema ce Soir, a selection of works by students and alumni, which included someone making a design on a floor and wall with tape so that it looked like a 3D image, and a humourous video tour of the ROM.

Next we headed over to Philosopher’s Walk for what was one of the most hyped installations of the night — Fujiko Nakaya’s Fog in Toronto #71624, or ‘fog sculpture.’ It was basically just an area of the path which was roped off and filled with artificial water-fog; the idea is that it’s constantly fluid, ever-changing, and it did look pretty cool rolling around the trees and over the lights. However, it was so crowded — hundreds of people at least — that the fog had a hard time sticking around and the lineup just to walk through it was like something you’d see at Wonderland.


Needless to say, we didn’t stick around very long — plus, we had to run down to 401 Richmond for Melissa Major’s read-through/performance of her one-act play Unicorn Horns. We arrived just in time for the third and final reading of the night, and given how physical (read: lusty) this play is at times, Major was still in fine form even at that late hour, delivering a very confident and cohesive portrayal of the trials and tribulations of Quiche, her highly associative, hermaphroditic/schizophrenic creation.

After that we swooped down on NFB Mediatheque on Richmond St. to hopefully check out some old movies, but they only had a single video installation running on all the screens — Theo Buchinskas’s In the Moment, which was supposed to be a real-time mixing and melding of music and random clips from the NFB’s entire 67 year catalogue. However, we watched it for about ten minutes and it was the same clips being played over and over again, so either we happened to drop in during a lull in the show or it wasn’t working like it was supposed to. Either way, it was pretty boring so we skipped out and headed up to Queen St, where we walked by Samuel Roy-Bois’s Position Yourself in a Network of Possibilities, which, despite the fancy name and full page write-up in the Nuit Blanche program, was nothing more than a disco-themed dance party. But it was loud and well attended and looked like a lot of fun.

Unfortunately, this is where I had to call it a night, around 2 am. I had to work the next day, and I hadn’t realized just how huge this event was going to be, and so wasn’t fully prepared. Next year though, I definitely plan on napping during the afternoon, loading myself up with coffee and taking in everything until the sun comes up. This is an amazing idea and and an amazing night and though I’m sure there were a few glitches everything seemed very well organized.

Looking forward to next year.

Photos by Marjan Alemi 03971semaj

2 Comments leave one →
  1. James17930 permalink
    Monday, October 2, 2006 1:31 pm

    Here’s Jen Gerson’s take on the night — some of our stuff overlaps, but you can see just how much there was to do.

  2. Frenchie permalink
    Tuesday, October 3, 2006 3:34 pm

    Unicorn Horns, the one act play, ended up winning me over in the end. although at times pretentious, it had some really neato ideas and the over the top theatrics got me into it. My major critic about this play would be that it needs to be a bit more polished, maybe a bit of a better flow and more of an ending would really help. I also find myself reflecting on it quite often since Saturday, which is a good sign. It also reminds me of the song “Right Where It Belongs” by NIN.


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