Nuit Blanche 2014. A round-up from a slightly dissatisfied Toronto art lover.

Nuit Blanche weekend has come and gone again, and so has the cycle of yay and nay-sayers; the participants and the avoiders; the stoked and the mildly dissatisfied. I’d say that I actually fit into all these categories.  As a relatively frequent attendee to arts events in Toronto, there’s a part of me that snickers at those that pile in by the thousands to ‘art.’

Yes, as a verb:nb'14 roundup (20)

I held back on writing this review until I’d had a couple weeks to let it sink in, and I’m glad I did. I was angry on that Saturday night / Sunday morning. There were elements of this year’s event that were so poorly planned they made me feel embarrassed to have visitors come into ‘my’ city and see it in such a state. If we were on one side of Queen Street and wanted to get to the other… without hopping a fence, we couldn’t. And crossing University to get to the rest of Queen Street? It felt like a massive rush mob in a movie, hundreds, if not thousands of people being held back from (minimal) traffic by some very stressed out looking cops [minus one that I adorably saw getting a crowd to get into a MARCO… POLO sound off]. But that road should have just been closed off. It doesn’t make sense to have so many people being part of a seeming street festival where you can walk around without care, and then suddenly have to pay attention to street lights in the very middle of it. I didn’t make it onto Spadina in Chinatown, but heard from other revellers that was in a similar state of highly cordoned, anti-chaos (yet yielding more confusion).

As many people said on social media, one of the best parts of this year’s Nuit Blanche was the food trucks… but… is this how we welcome people to sit and enjoy the new trends??

really? the dining area is next to the garbage bin and (out of shot to my left) the rows of porta potties!?

really? The dining area is next to a dumpster (but no garbage cans) and (out of shot to my left) the row of porta potties!?

I still think that Nuit Blanche is important to our city, and for our city and, though I’ll likely change my game plan a bit next year (as in, I will look through the installations ahead of time to specifically seek out the ones that sound either secluded and/or amazing), I will continue to attend.

Why? Because not everyone gets the chance to scour alleyways for graffiti or go to galleries and exhibit openings. During Nuit Blanches, yes, there are huge, corporately sponsored messages of propagandistic ‘art’ and blatant, poorly thought out advertising for things like cars, but there are also dozens, if not hundreds of emerging artists being vulnerable to an unusually large audience.

But, having said that, Toronto is filled with art on a daily basis, so if you’re not into snaking your way through massive lines and crowds in the middle of the night, then go out and see any of the hundreds of art galleries that fill our neighbourhoods with local art every day of the week.

Here is a very quick visual tour through how I experienced Nuit Blanche.

One of the best moments in the evening was when we decided to sit in Queen’s Park to drink a beer. There was a team of twelve to fifteen drummers who were clearly getting ready to perform in front of a nearly non-existent audience. But after this, the crowd began to show up. Quickly.

In fact, if you know Queen’s Park, you know that there are paved paths that come into the centre, towards the giant bronze horse in the middle. I looked around me between dancing and saw that people were RUNNING towards the sound from every direction. It was beautiful. It was like we had accidentally come across the kind of genuine human interaction that most people who go out for the ‘all night art thing’ are truly craving.

For the most part, I just want to be visually stimulated, which can and does happen on a nearly daily basis. I went out again the next day, and in my next post, I revisit the very places that held some of (best) twelve hour exhibits, to show that the places that exhibit the art can be a spectacle in and of themselves, and also that the journeys to and from the art can be just as filled with artistic expressions as the final destination.

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