Annual dusk-to-dawn art exhibition goes digital for first time in 14 years
Nuit Blanche is one of Toronto’s most highly anticipated art events of the year. Many would flock to Nathan Phillips Square to feast their eyes on contemporary interactive artworks and all the culture Toronto has to offer. However, this year, on Oct. 3, the dusk-to-dawn art festival will be held virtually, due to COVID-19.
“What I appreciated over the years is that once I started going to some events, I would meet people, and we would just hang out. Nuit Blanche, as a Ryerson student, has always been a tradition to me,” says recent Ryerson graduate Estelle Ntusi.
Although there won’t be any physical interaction, this year’s online art show still plans on keeping its viewers entertained.
Nuit Blanche’s artistic director, Julie Nagam, plans to bring this year’s theme “The Space Between Us” through a series of talks, panels, and artworks that viewers can enjoy from the comfort of their own home.
The theme is inspired by circumpolar, Pacific and North American connections. Nagam has been working on grant projects in Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Norway, Finland, Alaska, and Greenland.
“I was interested in colonial spaces that ended up having shared histories but are distinctly different from their localized histories. It’s a lot about thinking about space and place and how we belong, or feeling of a lack of belonging,” she says.
This year Nuit Blanche will not have any independent art projects. Those who were set to showcase their art will have the opportunity to do so next year, assuming COVID-19 restrictions will allow it. This year, however, there will be five different streams of content available.
Viewers can also access the Nuit Blanche archives and see artworks from over 2,000 artists over the past 14 years.
“There’ll be a call out to have past artists send in their work and participate in that archive,” said Nagam. “That’s going to be important for doing a new podcast called ‘Belonging To Place.’ I interview four to five key people, whether they be elders, arts leaders, artists that are in the exhibition or past exhibitions, talking about their belonging and belonging to a place.”
Along with a podcast, there will also be “Nuit Talks” — eight curated talks with 45 different types of artists, touching on topics such as shifts in the art world due to the impacts of COVID-19. This series started ahead of Oct. 3 and has six more talks to go.
“Nuit Live” will be a 12-hour streaming event with art commissioned by 22 artists.
“Some of that’s animations, some of it is a video and film. Some of it is 3D assets and VR components, and we’ve invited five DJs to work soundscapes for some of that material,” Nagam says.
Several Ryerson students use Nuit Blanche as a way to explore art in the city at night, so to give a similar feel “Nuit and your Neighbourhood” will be works of augmented and virtual reality commissioned by 21 artists.
“You can slap it on a brick wall in your neighbourhood; you can throw it on your kitchen table, you can take a selfie with it. You can put it in any political spot that you think it’s necessary. The idea with the augmented works is that we want to try to create that feeling of expiration in the city when you walk into new works in the physical space,” says Nagam.
Information and links to the virtual arts installations can be found at: https://www.toronto.ca/explore-enjoy/festivals-events/nuitblanche/