An estimated one million visitors are expected to turn out for this 7th annual mega-celebration of contemporary art. They’ll have the opportunity to explore and interact with more than 150 dance, visual art, talk, music, light and sound works created by hundreds of artists. Many projects are located in unconventional spaces, adding an extra element of surprise and delight to the experience.
With so much art and so little time, charting a path through Nuit Blanche’s three themed zones is always a challenge. Here’s a selection of must-see projects helmed by faculty, students and alumni of York’s Faculty of Fine Arts.
Film Professor Janine Marchessault, Canada Research Chair in Art, Digital Media and Globalization, is co-curator (with her longtime collaborator Michael Prokopow) of The Museum for the End of the World at Toronto City Hall (Zone B – central). Exploring our cultural obsession with our eventual demise, Museum for the End of the World is an exercise in creativity and crisis. The projects featured in it focus on the idea of Doomsday – that revelatory moment of the end of the world – in a provocative, critical rumination about end times and a world in transition.
One of the highlights is Symposium – Until the End of the World, set in the City Hall Council Chambers. Three “world -renowned philosophers” – Arthur Kroker, Slavoj Žižek and York film Professor Brenda Longfellow – consider the profound ecological and economic issues confronting planet Earth in 2012. The symposium is inspired by the 1991 Wim Wenders film of the same title, Until the End of the World, and the director’s cut will be screened after the last talk. The symposium was organized by Marchessault with visual arts alumna Christine Davis (BFA ‘95) and Scott MacKenzie for the journal PUBLIC: Art/Culture/Ideas.
Zone B hosts many other York projects. Quasar 2.0 Star Incubator (right), digital mediaProfessor Mark-David Hosale’s collaboration with Jean Michel Crettaz, is an immersive, interactive light and sound installation that was built in on campus with the assistance of students in the Faculty of Fine Arts (see YFile Aug. 29) and makes its public debut in the parking garage at City Hall.
The Vault , by visual arts alumnus and contract faculty member Thomas Blanchard (MFA ‘08), is a photo installation that investigates the dynamic tension between creation and destruction, preservation and change. Davis’ projection installation World Without Sun paints a landscape of the romantic sublime, from the depths of the ocean to vast nebulae and intimate brain cells, through the prism of an era hell bent-on destruction. Theatre PhD candidate Byron Laviolette (BA ’04, ’06) is co-creator of an interactive installation called The Misson Business, where the audience participates in role play, filing through a bio-tech company’s pandemic screening clinic.
The performance installation 416-788-9663 (left) by film grad Geoffrey Pugen (MFA ‘10)explores the phenomenology of underground dance culture, escapism and consumption, re-enacting a subversive Toronto dance party scene from 1994. Joshua Bonnetta‘s (BFA ’04) film and sound installation American Colour, an homage to the now obsolete Kodachrome film stock that screened at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011, will be presented outdoors at the Toronto City Hall loading dock.
York music instructor William Beauvais and dance contract faculty member Terrill McGuire team up with musician John Kameel Farah and designer Steve Lucas for Earth’s Shadow, featuring student dancers and musicians from the York Dance Ensemble. Inspired by the transfiguration of night and day, the piece draws visitors moving through the performance space into a dynamic interplay of rhythm, movement, shadow and light.
In Zone C (Downtown East), dance alumna Vanessa Kimmons (BFA, BED ’08), graduate student Victoria Mata and three young artists from the York Dance Ensemble – Justine Comfort, Marijean Nicholson and Niko Markakis – perform in the “equipment piece” Planes (right) by Trisha Brown Dance Company.The dancers scale a 13 x 21-foot wall against a film backdrop, appearing to be free-falling as they dissolve against the film’s dizzying perspective.
Another dance graduate student, Pamela Rasbach, is also contributing work to Zone C. She is the choreographer of a work for Thom Sokoloski’s installation Dada Reboot, a curated collective expression of contemporary artists and how they engage with the ideas and creative works of the Dada Movement.
While Nuit Blanche visitors across the city will be using the social media site Twitter to share where they are and what they see, students in Professor Karen Stanworth’s Art in the City course in the Department of Visual Art and Art History at York will be tweeting to fulfill an assignment. Supported by the Faculty of Fine Arts’ E-Learning Academic Innovation Fund grant, this is one of a number of digital experiential learning opportunities taking place Faculty-wide.
Since it launched in 2006, Toronto’s Nuit Blanche has grown into one of the city’s most exciting and most anticipated cultural events. Based on results from an Ipsos Reid survey, the economic impact of Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2011 was calculated to be $37.2 million with an additional $4.5 million spillover impact. While the economic benefit can be measured, the network of creative ripples felt through artists and audiences is priceless. Torontonians (and the 120,000 tourists converging for Nuit Blanche) are encouraged to let inspiration overcome exhaustion and make the most of this “sleepless night”.
For full details on programming and venues, visit the Scotiabank Nuit Blanche website. Admission is free to all events.