Jeff Koons, Geoffrey Farmer set for 2009 Nuit Blanche

American artist Jeff Koons will bring his Rabbit sculpture and Vancouver artist Geoffrey Farmer will outfit a downtown church with a machine capable of inducing hallucinations at the fourth edition of Toronto's Nuit Blanche.

Toronto's all-night art event features Mexican wrestlers, dancing cranes

Jeff Koons will bring one of his famed Rabbit sculptures, like this one seen in New York, to Toronto for Nuit Blanche. ((Nuit Blanche))

American artist Jeff Koons will bring his Rabbit sculpture and Vancouver artist Geoffrey Farmer will outfit a downtown church with a machine capable of inducing hallucinations at the fourth edition of Toronto's Nuit Blanche.

The all-night contemporary art festival is scheduled for Oct. 3, from dusk to dawn, organizers announced Tuesday at a news conference at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

The sneak peak offered by the event's four curators included everything from Mexican wrestlers fighting blind in a cage at the Toronto bus station to a midway on Bay Street with rides that mimic the motion of this year's financial markets.

Coun. Kyle Rae of Toronto introduced this year's curators:

  • Gregory Elgstrand, a curator, writer and producer who has worked at the Art Gallery of Calgary and was behind the exhibitions in 2006 and 2008 at the Gladstone Hotel.
  • Thom Sokoloski, a performing artist who specializes in large-scale public arts projects.
  • Jim Drobnick and Jennifer Fisher, curators who focus on touch, taste, smell and the "sixth sense."
  • Makiko Hara, the Japanese-born curator of the Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art.
Vancouver artist Rebecca Belmore's Gone Indian installation will feature a powwow dancer on a red pickup cruising the city's financial district. ((Courtesy of Rebecca Belmore/Nuit Blanche))
This year's Nuit Blanche will involve 550 artists and curators from around the world, with dozens of independent institutions creating their own art projects for the night.

Hara is bringing Kyohei Sakaguchi from Japan with a work called Bicitycle that shows a dozen "mobile homes" based on the bicycle and Dance of the Cranes by Brandon Vickerd of Toronto, which involves a 13-minute performance by high-rise construction cranes.

Koons, one of the U.S. most controversial contemporary artists, is known for his giant balloon animals with mirrored surfaces, including his current series Rabbit.

Farmer is working with a device called a stroboscopic machine which will be installed in the Church of the Holy Trinity, and can induce visions among those who sit in the pews with their eyes closed. The device is accompanied by organ music composed by the artist.

Other notable installations:

  • Ghost Chorus — Dirge for Dead Slang, by Toronto's Katie Bethune-Leaman, a chorus in Larry Sefton park that will sing outmoded slang of the past.
  • Space Becomes an Instrument: Massey Hall will be strung with long piano strings to be played by live performers while the audience watches from the stage, by Gordon Monahan.
  • Bill Viola video installation: California video artist will project his work on the Canadian Tire at Bay and Dundas streets.
  • Monopoly with Real Money: Toronto celebrities, including financiers, will play the board game throughout the night in an installation by Iain Baxter of Windsor, Ont.
  • Gone Indian: Vancouver artist Rebecca Belmore brings a powwow dancer on a red pickup that will cruise the financial district.
  • Vodka Pool: A reflective pool of 80-proof vodka by Dan Mihaltianu of Berlin.
  • 10 Scents: Montreal artist Chih-Chien Wang creates a smell installation involving 10 scents from Alice in Wonderland.
  • Sounding space: Three Toronto artists create a sound installation that reacts to the movements of participants.

"What we're finding out this year is the degree to which the curator and the artist have to work together," Drobnick told CBC News. "It's that customized vision that makes a difference at Nuit Blanche."

Drobnick said he chose artists that would play to senses such as smell and sound, as well as vision.

The all-night event is extending into new sites this year, he said, including the CN Tower, which run a light show synchronized to a radio broadcast.

D.A. Therrien's Beautiful Light: Four Letter Word Machine will take over City Hall. ((Nuit Blanche))
City Hall, which was lit up by Blinkenlights in 2008, also will feature a light installation.

Beautiful Light: Four Letter Word Machine, by Phoenix, Ariz., artist D.A. Therrien will blast an ever-changing display of words between the city hall towers throughout the night.

Mayor David Miller, one of the event's biggest boosters, said Nuit Blanche drew 100,000 tourists to Toronto in 2008, amid crowds of more than one million people.

This year the city plans to shut down McCaul St., a portion of Bay Street, and Liberty Street to make it easier for pedestrians to get around the city. The TTC has also promised all-night service on both subway lines.

The province announced a $300,000 grant toward Nuit Blanche, which resulted in $13.7 million in economic activity in 2008, according to Miller.