Ride with a storyteller, see the wind at Nuit Blanche 2017

More than a dozen feature projects and more than 50 independent artists, businesses and organizations will create a party that spreads across Winnipeg’s downtown, the Exchange District and St. Boniface from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m. on Sept. 30.
Wall to Wall's public mural painting and bike jam kickoff at 115 Maryland St. during Nuit Blanche in 2015. (Teghan Beaudette/CBC)

Participants in this year's Nuit Blanche will be able to "see the wind" in the Exchange District, take a ride on a storytelling shuttle service, then wander through an interactive video installation that transports them to two artists' homes in a Manitoba First Nation and Romania.

Those are just a few of the pieces planned for the annual all-night art extravaganza, which this year falls on Sept. 30.

From 6 p.m. to 4 a.m., more than a dozen feature projects and more than 50 independent artists, businesses and organizations will create a party that spreads across Winnipeg's downtown, the Exchange District and St. Boniface. 

All Nuit Blanche events are free of charge.

Vancouver-based South Korean artist Khan Lee's Red, Green and Blue, one of this year's featured projects, uses a shallow lake filled with floating cones, and shadows and light enable audiences to see the movements of the wind.

"It's quite a lovely piece. It evokes feelings of the Prairies and moving grasses and flickering lights and the northern lights in some ways," said Monica Derksen, project co-ordinator for Nuit Blanche.

PelmuSnow, a Winnipeg-based artistic duo consisting of Theo Pelmus and Kristin Snowbird, will use projections to immerse audiences in their respective homes — Romania and Pine Creek, Man. In their piece called Homes, audience members can control the images and sounds using a rocking horse connected by wireless technology.

Keep Me Awake, presented by Peg City Car Co-op, features storytellers who accompany drivers shuttling Nuit Blanche participants between events, while spinning a tale. Three to four drivers from the car co-op will be on the road, and there will be pre-determined pickup points, Derksen said.

Winnipeg-based architect and urban designer Lawrence Bird's Dominion: 16 Trajectories projects satellite and moving images from 16 locations across the Prairies, with accompanying audio. It's part of a larger project called Dominion that explores the impacts of the Dominion Land Survey, a 19th century survey that divided up the prairie landscape along a strict grid pattern.

Anishinaabe playwright Frances Koncan's Riot, Resist, Revolt, Repeat, currently on during the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival, will return. Set in the not-so-distant future, it imagines a world of environmental devastation in which life is lived within the confines of a wall.

Nuit Blanche will give $2,000 to the winners of the Emerging Voices Project. This year's featured projects are Nuit Noire: Illuminate Our Voice by Black Space Winnipeg, Rattling Change by the OliveUS Collective, and  PEG by Calgary-born, Winnipeg-based artists Meighan Giesbrecht and Tia Watson.

Interactivity and technology 

Many of the pieces include interactive elements, something Derksen said fits with Nuit Blanche's mission of making art accessible.

"We basically want to just expand people's knowledge and experience with art and one of the best ways to do that is to get them involved in it," she said. "Artists also enjoy seeing people interact with their art in a very sort of hands-on way."

Technology has also increasingly taken on a central role in the types of pieces exhibited during the event.

"It's been a trend over time, but this year, we noticed the vast majority of the projects that were submitted for consideration involve technology in some form," Derksen said, something she attributes partly to the theme of the event, "Illuminate the night."

"It very much is about the dark, the night and bringing some light to it," she said.

Not only does Nuit Blanche shed light on the arts scene in Winnipeg, it also sheds light on the places where the event happens.

"It's downtown, it's in the Exchange, and the more light you bring to places that people for whatever reason, think unsafe at times, it gives that level of comfort, it just makes people feel very sort of welcomed into the space," she said.

Although the call for submissions is closed, individuals or organizations that want to plan their own events can still get included in the program.

"So if people have ideas that they want to independently run, that are self-funded, we very much encourage that," she said.

Information can be found at nuitblanchewinnipeg.ca.