I don’t get it (my Nuit Blanche)

Posted on October 5th, 2009 No comments. The post is really that bad, huh?

Nuit Blanche was one of those rare nights when the “Bohemian” artist set get to … no, are encouraged to get their lazy asses out of bed extra late. Getting there at half past six in the evening is actually arriving early, ten at night is when things are just starting to get going, and two in the morning is about right to avoid the big crowds and still get a good walk in. I chose the third option and managed, with the assistance of my favourite energy drink, to stay up until closing time. I couldn’t think of any other night to do this than Saturday.

The event was both hoote and anny. It’s hard to know where to begin; so many strange things on the street that night.

First, there were the kids on acid who stumbled onto mindblowing, totally fucked up shit … oh man, this is too much man! it’s too much!

oh man, that can't be real!

I made that part up. The imaginatively named “Rabbit Balloon” at the Eaton Centre only had a few tired-looking security guards around it.  The kids on acid (and E, and K, and all the other letters too), were freaking out on the edge of Grange Park behind a truck blasting out what sounded suspiciously like happy hardcore. I wasn’t partial to it back in my youth, I’m not partial to it today, whatever it’s being called now. Just a bit too spazzed out for me. I like my music a bit mellower these days.

ho hum

Hmmm. Except not this mellow. This was called “Dirge for Dead Slang” and I guess it was supposed to be some sort of lamentation for outmoded language. It had this monotonous soundtrack playing over loudspeakers that was a tad too loud, so no one could really hear what the ghosts were listing off. Intended?

Just down the street at City Hall, was this:

ooh! hebrew!

This had the unfulfilled title “Beautiful Light: 4 LETTER WORD MACHINE”. I stood around for a few patterns; not letters. As I was leaving, some words … French? I thought this was supposed to be the “4-letter word” machine. I can think of a few to try maintenant, and they’re in English. For an English audience. I was imagining they would at least flash “bull” and “shit” in alternating sequences; isn’t that why it’s in front of City Hall?

My next stop was at this performance, the “Dead Philosophers’ Limbo”:

they don't look so dead to me

Radios were alternately brought out into the crowd (I kinda wasn’t paying attention to what was being read on them), and then brought into the center and piled onto one of the girls in the middle. Then, in slow-mo, the dancers came back and removed them. The middle girl jerked around a while, now surrounded by the other dancers, each holding a pose. They alternated between each other, taking turns to move in interesting ways.

I didn’t get it…

I also wasn’t sure I got the Trainspotting baby-things stuck to the wall at the OCAD:

man i could use some smack right about now

I didn’t read about the installation before I went. In hindsight, I’m kind of glad I didn’t because that would’ve ruined the expected sense of otherwhere I think they were trying to achieve. Mostly, though, I think it was all the inebriated goofs getting their pictures taken doing all sorts of things to the giant stuffed baby-things that ruined the atmosphere. Then again, I guess it was a college.

Things were a lot more sober down at Union Station:

the gas made everyone ... sleepy

Was the “Imminent Departure” piece intended to establish irony? I don’t want to mislead you, the thing was noisy. Lots of recordings of loud talking, noisy trains, clamorous transit stations, and flashing lights through the fog. But like most other places, I think people were just starting to peter out a bit. You’d have to have an almost military-type mindset to still be sharp at 4:30 in the morning.

the new podling is about to emerge

This is the Centre for Tactical Magic’sWitches’ Cradles”. Yup, you read that right; tactical magic. They have stickers on their website that you can print off and stick on any corporation or business you want to curse. And they quote 50 Cent.

The Cradle piece wasn’t so much an art piece as it was a way to get messed up. In a nutshell, it’s a sensory deprivation chamber except without the chamber. Participants wait their turns blindfolded until they’re brought to a sturdy, pentagram-shaped sack in which they sit. The sack is pulled up around them and they’re hoisted into the air on a winch. Each sack comes with its own attendant who periodically nudges it, presumably to cause the person inside to lose their orientation.

And that wasn’t the only mind-squishing piece of art:

do the church guys know you're here?

The Blinking Eyes of Everything” was a giant, stroboscopic trance machine inside the Church of the Holy Trinity. According to the piece’s description, it was intended to cause hallucinations. During the time I was there, the “soundtrack” was composed of a single note played on the organ. I didn’t participate, but I’m certain that numerous Torontonians are out there right now, destroying the word. Not sure what that means, but I suspect we’ll be reading about it in the crime section of the news shortly.

Thankfully, not all of the artists were out to control our minds. Some just wanted to get us drunk and take us home.

my preconceptions of art are totally getting smashed tonight!

The “Vodka Pool” seemed conspicuously shallow. It was intended for viewers to “ponder the volatile and symbolic qualities of 80-proof vodka” as it relates to the financial institutions surrounding it. But after a while, the fumes made all that money look attractive. That’s not even irony, that’s just being sloshed.

And apparently that’s how you’re supposed to go to Nuit Blanche. I think I see the wisdom in that. By 7:30 the following morning, they were taking down the signs and I was going there myself. Had I been a bit more spirited, I might’ve been able to stay up a bit longer. Any spirit, really. Even beer.

I’m glad they only do this thing once a year. I barely hit a quarter of what was out there (this post has only the highlights of that quarter), and I’d been trudging around for five hours. By my calculations, to see all the projects you’d have to see eleven per hour. That’s one every five and a half minutes. If we factor in a somewhat unreasonable two minutes travel time between projects, you could appreciate each one for roughly three and a half minutes before dashing off to the next one. And you’d have to keep up the pace for the full twelve hours.

Technically, it should be possible. Sounds like we have a challenge. :D

What's on your mind?