When Toronto celebrates all night…

There are many reasons I love Toronto, the biggest attraction being the fact that this city has a vibrant life. Take the Nuit Blanche festival for example. Nuit Blanche (नुई ब्लांश) – meaning ‘White Night’ or ‘All-Nighter’ in French is an annual all-night arts festival that’s held in several cities around the world, Toronto included. This year, it is estimated that over a million people attended it. The 2012 edition had over 150 contemporary art projects within three zones mainly focused in downtown Toronto but also spread around other parts of the town.

Some works encourage an intimate encounter with art, while others will wow you with large-scale spectacle.

Not being a good late-night person, I decided to checkout this festival during the wee hours. Waking up at 3:30 am on a cool Sunday morning, I got my camera ready and pedaled away on my bicycle.

People enjoying and all night celebrations

I was surprised to see busy streets and crowds outside bars and junk food places which is very understandable.

On the way I saw guys peeing, couples kissing, people throwing and kicking shit around, two people who passed out and one live puke session. Overall no complaints. 😉

Art exhibits and installations

I biked along Queen street west which leads from my house in Parkdale right to the city hall. The City hall and adjacent areas had numerous exhibits but judging from the overall at 4:30am. There was a gaping silence and a feeling of emptiness at the City hall.. it appeared that something terrible had just happened. Nobody will know. The ground was brightly lit by moonlight. Yesterday’s full moon, famously called ‘Harvest moon,’ was surrounded by a thick layer of cloud

“World Without Sun” – a visceral experience of sound and light that urges us to consider the radical interdependencies of life on this planet. The exhibit used six junked satellite dishes projected with changing imagery from the depths of the ocean to vast nebula and intimate brain cells, the work explores the concept that the universe is made up of multiple subjective environments of which the human is but one. Very cool, very interesting.

Not sure of the project seen in the picture to the right (“Once upon a time”?). An video projected onto a tower at City Hall, looks like a funky laser show.

↑ Late night snack anyone?

There were numerous other exhibits and models at the City Hall, some were closed and sadly I was unaware of the rest.

↑ Kathak workshop by Joanna D’Souza who teaches at M-DO Kathak Toronto, a top-class organization that’s one of the best producers of quality Indian classical arts I have ever seen.

“All together now” – A dance marathon featuring a different dances from around the world each hour. Audience participation was required and I was surprised to see the number of people that showed up for this Kathak session at 5am. Two dozen participants and many curious onlookers.

“All night convenience” – This 300-square-foot lantern mimics a corner store. Two thousand smaller lanterns, representing products ranging from toothpaste to pork goulash, light its walls. During the night the store will darken, as visitors enter to take away the free lanterns while they last. It was very interesting!

“Fun House” – an interactive performance art installation inspired by the classic carnival fun house. The public is invited to take a car ride and journey through compelling carnivalesque environments.

↑ Remember this?

“Green invaders” – They’re green, they’re angry, they’re happy, they’re from the 80s and the whole city is their playground. They are the Green Invaders from a popular video game that everyone in my generation will know.

“Invisible streams” – an installation of undulating coloured lines of neon light and found letters, logos, and symbols move in a whirlwind of activity through the canopies of trees evoking the unseen energies of air currents, underground streams and ‘streams of consciousness.’

“Throw up” – an exhibit adoring a city wall using edible icing sugar to create an excessive decorative explosion. I set my there bike for a photogenic picture.


↑ No chance of getting lost, there were maps and directions all around

It’s not easy to organize a night festival on such a large scale and I think the administration did a fantastic job or managing it. Street closures were a boon and there was not as much jostling through crowds as last year. The zones were arranged better, making it easy to explore a bulk of exhibits on foot. Finally, there were lots of food carts and toilets… such a relief!

By the time I finished checking out the festivities, it was 7:30 am and the sky had started to break out. Cleaning crews were on the job rightaway, cleaning the litter and junk from an entire night of revelation.

Hope you enjoyed reading this report. Did you checkout any all-night festivals in other cities?