Nuit Blanche celebrates Scarborough's 'Queens and Kings'

Scarborough's "hotbed of culture" will be on display Saturday night, during the second year of Nuit Blanche exhibits in the area.

Art installations showcase Scarborough's people, 'hotbed of culture'

Teknuset by artist Jordan Bennett is one of the projects in Nuit Blanche Scarborough that is located in the civic centre. (Supplied by Ashley McKenzie-Barnes)

The "Queens and Kings of Scarborough" will be celebrated Saturday night, during the second year of Nuit Blanche exhibits in the area.

Curator Ashley McKenzie-Barnes says she wanted to "[flip] the script" on typical high art, and honour Scarborough's diverse immigrant communities and cultural "hotbed."

"I really needed to elevate it in a way that we felt royal ... we felt like we had a voice, we felt like we were being put on a pedestal for the 12-hour duration," said McKenzie-Barnes, speaking on CBC's Here and Now.

Some of Scarborough's extraordinary people will be depicted in ReConnected STC, a life-size image series in the Scarborough Town Centre.

People like Lilly Singh and Maestro Fresh Wes will be depicted on a canvas of archival text from local newspaper, The Scarborough Mirror.

Artist Mark Stoddart says his project is aimed at helping the community better-recognise the contributions of individuals who were raised in Scarborough. (Submitted by Michele Simpson)

"When you go into the Scarborough Town Centre you always run into somebody," said artist Mark Stoddart, who says he wanted to curate that same feeling. His installation will be on display until Oct. 13.

This installation, is about legacy for Stoddart — and giving the next generation a benchmark to go even further.

Curating this zone for Nuit Blanche was a chance to show Scarborough as a "hotbed of culture — that we've contributed to the cultural fabric of the overall GTA," said McKenzie-Barnes.

Scarborough's Nuit Blanche will take place in three of the area's most "frequented landmarks" — Scarborough's town centre, Civic Centre, and Cineplex Cinemas. 

Other installations include work from muralist Durothethird, who is celebrating 30 years of graffiti with a vinyl wrap on the civic centre, tagging all of Scarborough's major city streets.

Nuit Blanche accessible to Scarborough residents

Maria Posadas and her two kids saw a different side of Scarborough Town Centre for a night when Nuit Blanche extended its projects into Scarborough for the first time last year.

Gabe, 11, and Rosie, seven, who are dancers at Simply Swagg Dance Studio, got to show their moves in a mall storefront that was transformed into a music lounge with local DJs spinning through the night. 

'Scarborough Made' will depict the lives and stories of hardworking families and immigrants in the city's east end, according to the City of Toronto's website. (Submitted by Michele Simpson)

During the day the mall is a typical shopping centre, but on Saturday at 7 p.m. the shops will close and the art will be on display in the second-ever Nuit Blanche in Scarborough.

"It was always something I wanted to take the kids to, but it was never accessible," Posadas said, adding that having to take multiple subways or find affordable parking downtown can be a challenge. 

A Nuit Blanche in Scarborough changes that. 

"We have such a big artistic community, it's good it highlighted that," Posadas said. 

Last year there were about 100,000 people in attendance and this year organizers expect even more, Michele Simpson, a supervisor of special events with the City of Toronto, said in an email to CBC News. 

What to expect 

This year, Scarborough is hosting 20 projects.

The video installation "...three kings weep" questions "what it means for a Black male body to be seen," the website description says, and "why society is quick to dismiss the humanity of these individuals."

The project '…three kings weep…' is a video installation exploring issues of race and class in society. (Submitted by Michele Simpson)

Six dancers from Anandam Dancetheatre will perform for 12 hours at an interactive installation at the Scarborough Town Centre mall. Audiences will be invited to participate by stringing together garlands of jasmine.

The Cineplex will also play host to The Big Feminist Game Show, where audiences will participate in a fast-paced and live-streamed event run by Toronto Instagram sensation Hatecopy. The game show is an attempt to shine a light on women who have often been "left uncredited and overshadowed in the media," the city's website says. 

Meanwhile, at the Scarborough Civic Centre, Cree artist Kent Monkman will have a video installation called The Miss Chief Eagle Testickle Picture Show. 

Compared to the downtown projects, McKenzie-Barnes says many of the artists created art specifically to represent the people and places in Scarborough.

Teknuset, located in the civic centre, is series of hanging fabric works that will be suspended over the busy public space. (Submitted by Michele Simpson)

The area is home to a majority of first and second-generation immigrants, McKenzie-Barnes said.

"Seeing something of that magnitude come to Scarborough is so great," said Posadas, who will be attending the event  for a second time this year, along with her family. 

She encourages people to make the trip out because, "Only in Scarborough will you catch this type of community and pride."

With files from CBC's Here and Now, Laura Howells