York artists will light up Nuit Blanche

A cross section of creative artists from the Faculty of Fine Arts is on deck for tomorrow’s all-night art party.

Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, which will take place throughout downtown Toronto, features the work of more than 500 local, national and international artists

Theatre Professor Shawn Kerwin collaborated with Laurel McDonald to create “Alone Together“, an “art-app” for the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. The app is one of five interactive installations featured in Technological Displacement, a production of the Canadian Film Centre’s Media Lab, at the Bata Shoe Museum on Bloor Street.

 Alone we are together Poster
Above: Professor Shawn Kerwin has developed a new art-app for the BlackBerry PlayBook. It will debut at Nuit Blanche.

“Alone Together” uses poetic wordplay and expressive videos to remind us that we can always reframe our relationships. Kerwin developed the piece during her five-month residency at the CFC Media Lab earlier this year.

Technological Displacement is one of the 38 projects in Zone A, whose overarching theme, Restaging the Encounter, attempts to capture the fleeting moment when the political become poetic.

Another project in Zone A is True Patriot Love by York visual arts alumna and multimedia artist Chrysanne Stathacos (BA ‘73), located in Barbara Ann Scott Park at the heart of College Park. The work transforms a memorable phrase from Canada’s national anthem into a giant haiku poem, made from flowers and cut wood floating in a water-filled pond.

True Patriot Love CoverLeft: True Patriot Love by visual arts grad Chrysanne Stathacos

The theme of Zone B is The Future of the Present. The works on view in this sector use new technologies to form a vocabulary for a non-pictorial art.

Visual arts grad Simone Jones (MFA ‘96) and her collaborator Lance Winn are contributing Projektor, a multimedia work that addresses the nature of surveillance, mechanization and control. Installed at Ryerson University’s loading dock on Gerrard Street, Projektor resembles a prison tower, with a roaming spotlight video projection that exposes a barren prison yard and a prisoner who attempts to escape the light.

Collaborators since 2002, Jones and Winn share a common interest in the mechanisms of reproduction and the impact they have on representation. Their work focuses on the edges of the two-dimensional image and a desire to see beyond the limits of the frame.

Also in Zone B is 12 Hour Dolly, an installation at 62 Bond Street by film alumnus Dylan Reibling (BFA Spec. Hons. ‘02).  Reibling argues that the dolly shot (where the movie camera glides along rails) is the most revered, powerful and evocative moment in the making of a film.  To create 12 Hour Dolly, a film crew will set up a circular dolly track and shoot film continuously for 12 hours straight. Located in the centre of the track is a makeshift stage with a single stool.  One by one, spectators are invited to sit centre-stage and participate in the making of the film, which will be streamed live A man sitting on a chair on a tableonto an adjacent wall.

Right: Dylan Reibling’s take on the dolly shot took 12 hours to film

Reibling is an award-winning filmmaker whose work, exploring the mechanics of narrative, ranges from stop-motion animation and drama to interactive prototypes.

Two other York film alumni, Alexis Mitchell (MFA ‘11) and Sharlene Bamboat (MA ‘09) co-created Border Sounds, a sound, video and interactive performance installation in the form of a “silent disco” on the P1 floor of The Atrium on Bay’s underground parking lot. The work grew from the artists’ desire to explore the troubling policies entrenched in national and territorial border politics, and to question access and mobility within those borders. Participants are invited to listen with headphones to musical tracks with lyrics referencing the text inside passports, and to watch related video projections.

Bamboat is a film and video artist whose work centres around aspects of diasporas, critiques of nationalism, and the ways in which the queer body relates to sites of mobility.  Mitchell is a documentary filmmaker and media artist whose work explores performativity, memory, statehood, space and architecture.

A sketch of a filmLeft: Border Sounds is a sound, video and interactive performance installation by two York film alumni

Maria Coates, a graduate student in art history and curatorial studies, is interning with the curator of Zone C, York art history alumnus Nicholas Brown (MA ‘08), who comes to Nuit Blanche after a two-year stint as curator of Toronto’s Red Bull 381 Projects.

Brown’s theme for Zone C is You had to go looking for it. Convening in the wake of the recent civil unrest around the G20 meeting in the city, the project invites the masses to transform and occupy Toronto’s financial district. Artists will open up the area as a place of otherworldly encounter, ambivalent assembly and enthusiastic competition, inverting and misusing the symbolic language of corporate capitalism.

Coates, whose research centres on contemporary Latin American art, is working on Memorias (Memories), an installation by Mexican-born, Los Angeles-based artist Camilo Ontiveros. The project is a large-scale vigil that invites audience members to light a candle in commemoration of the lost lives of migrant workers in Ontario. It reaches out to individual passersby as well as organizations that represent the interests of labour, including United Food and Commercial Workers Canada and the Mayworks Festival of Working People and the Arts.

“What attracts me to Camilo’s project in the context of this international, corporate-sponsored, city-run festival is how it offers a space for pause and reflection in honour of something that we tend to overlook,” said Coates.

Coates appreciates the opportunity to intern with Brown – a relationship brokered by Art History Graduate Program Director Anna Hudson. “It’s been great to work with a recent grad whom I could relate to through discussions of contemporary art and what’s entailed in becoming a curator in Toronto. Nick has been a great mentor in guiding me through the process and leaving room for me to perform in a meaningful way,” she said.

Also in Zone C are The Tie-break, a performance installation by visual art alumnus Geoffrey Pugen (MFA ‘10) and Tibi Tibi Neuspiel, and Intensity by John Notten, a visual arts and education graduate (BEd ’87, BFA ‘87).

Two tennis playersRight: The Tie Break is a performative re-enactment of the most riveting episode in the history of tennis

Pugen, whose work has been featured in publications such as Artforum and Adbusters, is a recipient of the K.M Hunter Award for Interdisciplinary Art. His collaborative piece, The Tie Break, is a performative re-enactment of the “most riveting episode in the … history [of tennis]” (ESPN): the legendary fourth set tie-break at the 1980 Wimbledon men’s singles finals between Björn Borg and John McEnroe. The matches will take place hourly at 25 minutes after the hour at Commerce Court, North Plaza on King Street.

Notten’s Intensity invites the audience to explore the presentation centre for a luxury condominium development, but delivers a vast and sprawling tent city. As in the 2002 eviction of Toronto’s waterfront tent city, viewers are forced to move out of their temporary tent homes every few minutes. Installed in the Arnell Plaza of the Bay-Adelaide Centre, this all-night drama echoes the realities of makeshift communities around the world that rise up in the wake of human tragedy.

Four tents with lights in them on a dark nightLeft: John Notten’s Intensity delivers a vast and sprawling tent city. Viewers must move out of their temporary homes every few minutes in a re-enactment of the 2002 eviction of residents from Toronto’s waterfront tent city.

Toronto’s sixth annual Nuit Blanche kicks off at 6:59pm on Saturday, Oct. 1 and runs to daybreak on Sunday, Oct. 2.

With 134 installations, the celebration covers the city’s entire downtown area, from Roncesvalles Avenue in the west all the way to the Distillery Historic District in the east, and from Bloor Street to the Lake Shore. Admission to all events is free.

Photos courtesy of Scotiabank Nuit Blanche