'Many Possible Futures': Nuit Blanche unveils event-wide theme for 1st time

Nuit Blanche — the all-night contemporary art show that runs from sunset on Sept. 30 to sunrise Oct. 1 — is back for its 12th year in Toronto, but with an over-arching theme.

Contemporary art show in September will shine a spotlight on 90 art projects, 350 artists

Artwork from Nuit Blanche's exhibit 'Life on Neebageezis; A Luminous Engagement' features Kitakio'sinnooniks, a theatrical production, by indigenous artist Cherish Violet Blood. (Rezcat Studio, Summer Garcia)

Nuit Blanche — the all-night contemporary art show that runs from sunset on Sept. 30 to sunrise Oct. 1 — is back for its 12th year in Toronto, but with an over-arching theme. 

The city unveiled the lineup for this year's edition Tuesday, which includes 35 art projects celebrating Toronto's art community; the remaining 55 projects showcase Canada's diversity. 

"We really wanted to not look backwards and rather encourage the artists and curators we're working with this year to sort of look forward," Jeanne Holmes, program supervisor for the city's cultural events, said Tuesday.

Village Print Shop is a silkscreen studio that will print banners, t-shirts and posters with your ideas that address a variety of pressing issues facing Toronto’s communities. (Justseeds Artists' Cooperative)

The theme, Many Possible Futures, marks the first time the show will present an event-wide theme in honour of Canada's sesquicentennial birthday. 

"It was really an opportunity for the folks who are participating this year to imagine what the next 150 years might be, both the dystopian and utopian versions of that," Holmes said. 

Exhibits will include an array of artist's voices, many Canadian-based, and focuses on complementary ideas, such as protest, social change, revolution, resistance, difference, the unseen, cultural endurance and Indigenous visibility.

Red Slam, an indigenous hip hop fusion arts movement in Toronto, will be at Nuit Blanche's 'A Monument to the Century of Revolutions' exhibit. (Zahra Siddiqui)

The city will feature four exhibitions:

  • Taking to the Streets: Queen's Park and University of Toronto
  • Calculating Upon the Unforseen: Dundas Street between the Art Gallery of Ontario and Yonge Street
  • Life on Neebahgeezis; a Luminous Engagement: Bay Street between Queen and King Streets
  • Monument to the Century of Revolutions: Nathan Phillips Square

"This year is going to have a really different energy," Holmes said.

Both Life on Neebahgeezis; a Luminous Engagement and Calculating the Unforseen exhibits only feature Canadian artists.

"These really anchor the Canada 150 activity for us," Holmes said. "They look at the whole landscape of Canadian visual contemporary art."

Another exhibit, based at Nathan Phillips Square, A Monument to the Century of Revolutions, curated by Nato Thompson, comes 100 years after the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia. It will showcase 21 projects in 21 shipping containers, with art from local artists and activist organizations. 

"It's sort of this idea that the shipping containers land and unpack a ready made revolution," Holmes said. 

Listen to the Chorus, by Toronto's Madeleine Co. is an immersive video installation that explores the state of women's rights and a collective desire for change featured in Nuit Blanche's 'Taking to the Streets' exhibit. (Madeleine Co.)