All-night Nuit Blanche art event too big for one set of eyes

The curators of Saturday night's Nuit Blanche have some advice for Torontonians — don't try to see it all.

The curators of Saturday night's Nuit Blanche have some advice for Torontonians — don't try to see it all.

The all-night celebration of visual arts has become so big — and so popular — in its third year that it's best to have a game plan, said Dave Dyment, one of four curators who have chosen art projects for Nuit Blanche.

"Wear sensible shoes, don't drink alcohol and try to go through the catalogue and pick things that you're interested in. Pick a route," Dyment told CBC News.

Nuit Blanche is a free city-wide exploration of living art that takes place from dusk Saturday night to dawn Sunday morning.

The 2007 version drew more than 750,000 people, congesting Toronto streets and leading to long lines for some events.

Dyment has curated the projects in the Liberty Village district of Toronto, an area added to the all-night art event this year to spread out the crowds over a larger area.

"The first thing I think people will see when they hit King Street is … Lamport Stadium, where Jon Sasaki is doing a piece that involves 25 mascots trying to maintain exuberance over 12 hours," he said.

The same district is host to high-profile artist Yoko Ono, who is restaging her Imagine Peace project in honour of her late husband, John Lennon.

"They'll see Yoko Ono's Imagine Peace billboard, and we have 50,000 buttons we're handing out to people, and she also has some of her wish trees there where participants can write their wish on a tag and then tie it to a tree," Dyment said.

Fellow curator Gordon Hatt recommends a visit to Dundas Square, where artist Daniel Olson will  be performing a work called 15 Seconds.

"He's sitting in a watchtower with a follow spot and he will give people 15 seconds of fame in Dundas Square," Hatt said.

Another big-name act, which is designed to accommodate hundreds of people, is Project Blinkenlights, a Berlin arts group that turns the lights of a building into images as if they were pixels on a computer.

The group will light up Toronto City Hall in a moving display that will be visible from the square outside.

Hatt said the appeal of Nuit Blanche is to fill city streets with people engaged with art.

"It's a different context for looking at art. Art you typically associate with galleries, but to see it at night, to see it out in the public space, to see it associated with public buildings and the way it also opens up the city in different ways for people to explore, is a great and fun event," he said.

The number of public institutions staging their own exhibits in association with Nuit Blanche is growing as the festival moves into its third year.

Among the exhibits planned:

  • At the Art Gallery of Ontario, artist Leo Villareal will construct a light installation called Scintillator on the windows of the south tower.
  • At Ryerson University, the Sam the Record Man sign will be illuminated and the pond will be filled with rubber ducks in an exhibit called Sitting Ducks.
  • At the University of Toronto, there will be a Wildflowers of Manitoba video installation and a ring of cars transformed into mobile art galleries.

Nuit Blanche began in Paris in 2003.