Nuit Blanche 2014: 3 must-see installations

Contemporary art installations will light up the city Saturday as the Nuit Blanche 2014 festival kicks off at dusk. The all-night celebration of art, ideas and public spaces is free for everyone and draws tens of thousands of people into Toronto's streets.

More than 80 projects will go on display during the all-night festival

Ai Weiwei's "Forever Bicycles" was 2013's biggest hit. Though no artists of Weiwei's fame have submitted projects this year, there is an incredible slate of installations to check out. (CBC)

Contemporary art installations will light up the city Saturday as the Nuit Blanche 2014 festival kicks off at dusk. The all-night celebration of art, ideas and public spaces is free for everyone and draws tens of thousands of people into Toronto's streets.

There are more than 80 projects to check out this year, each of them meant to challenge the public's perception of art and inspire onlookers to think about the city and its people in new and creative ways.

Here are three must-see installations to add to your itinerary:


​Artist Shasti O'Leary-Soudant said her 2014 experience is all about "a virus that everyone already has," and to get people thinking about how the public's understanding of a "viral contagion" has changed over the past several decades. 

"HALFLIFE" is a reflection on how our increasing interconnectivity has influenced human relationships. (Shasti O-Leary-Soudant)
As viewers make their way toward Nathan Phillips Square, where "HALFLIFE" will be presented, they will be greeted by 100 volunteers wearing helmets meant to mimic the proteins that cover real viruses. 

The project "is a growth of my worry about our loss of connectivity in a time of great speed of transmission of information," O'Leary-Soudant said in an interview with CBC's Metro Morning on Friday. 

"Technology has sped up our ability to be in contact with each other so much that maybe we ended up losing  contact with one another in other ways, like emotional connections, for example," she said. 

Nathan Phillips Square, Starts at 7p.m.

Open Mind

Yoan Capote is arguably one of the most influential Cuban artists of his generation, and his Nuit Blanche 2014 installation "Open Mind" is likely to confirm that legacy. 

Capote hopes to donate his "Open Mind" labyrinth to the city when Nuit Blanche is over. (Yoan Capote)
Capote said the huge labyrinth, designed to resemble the human mind, is a "a metaphor for how we need to step out of our minds" to overcome barriers in the way we think about the world. 

"Our mind should be like a space with no barriers, open to exchange of ideas and thoughts of all people, regardless of cultural, political or religious differences," reads a description of his work on the Nuit Blanche website.

Capote said he wanted to create a place where people can go to meditate. He has offered to donate the installation for permanent display in the city when Nuit Blanche is over. 

Canoe Landing Park, Starts at 7 p.m.  

The Garden of Renova

​Made entirely from coloured toilet paper, "The Garden of Renova" is intended to create an "immersive environment with multimedia, costumes, hedges, and flowers," said Luigi Ferrara, dean of the Centre for Arts and Design at George Brown College.

"The Garden of Renova" is made entirely out of coloured toilet paper. (Luigi Ferrara )
"The scene this year is a garden because a garden is something that creatively renews itself right in front of us," Ferrara said during an interview on Metro Morning. 

"Taking inspiration from sacred spaces the installation will take the public through a journey that evokes a garden of earthly delights by synthesizing elements such as stone circles, arbours, Elysian fields, sacred wells, thresholds and portals," reads the installation's description on the Nuit Blanche website. 

Ferrara and his team made a mark last year with another project made entirely from toilet paper: a tree that the artist said really sparked people's imaginations. 

"We've tried to create an environment that people will want to interact with and move through," he said.

Osgoode Rotunda, Starts at 7 p.m.

Click here to explore an interactive map of installations throughout the city and plan your night.