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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

NUIT BLANCHE: impressions, part II

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I found this year’s Nuit Blanche a little underwhelming, but that could be due to my plan of just winging it. I didn’t have a schedule or “must-see” installations, so I have only myself to blame for not seeking out more venues (or referring to the program that was handed out).

I started in Parkdale and wandered east into the core. Though not really an installation, the TTC brought out a PCC streetcar — vintage modernist design — which took riders on a loop of the west side. If anything it added a tad or surrealness to the evening.

I didn’t find any of the exhibits too compelling (though there was topless modern/Butoh dance at Queen and Cowan, Bridging the Gap by Matthew Romantini) until I got under the bridge at Queen and Dufferin. The program didn’t have a listing for this installation: the steps leading up to the old Parkdale train station — long closed off to public use — were lit up, which also seemed to nicely glamourize the wall’s graffiti. Music by a handful of noise artists added a weird soundtrack to the experience.

From any angle, the installation You Will Change Everything by David Rokeby looked amazing. The changing colours in thew window of the Drake Hotel really made this piece come to life.

Another unofficial installation was the resurrection of the Hug Me Tree at Queen and Peter. The graffiti artist Elicser spent the week paper-maché-ing a replica of the Hug Me Tree that fell over in early-August (check out Spacing’s blog posts here and here).  He then spent the night painting it in his signature style. We’ll see how long the tree lasts in this location.

I ended my night at City Hall watching the Blinkenlights installation. It was a truly whimsical use of the building and I loved seeing GAME OVER spelled out periodically. One two occasions we witnessed one of the artists silhouetted in a window, possibly fixing an uncooperative panel sheet (read Shawn Micallef’s post on the prep work by Blinkenlights). And as Dylan Reid mentions in the previous Nuit Blanche post, it was great to personally experience the podium and elevated walk ways that surround Nathan Phillips Square.

photos by Matthew Blackett



  1. I am with you on the underwhelmingness of this year’s Nuit Blanche. I had a fantastic time last year. The works that were mediocre were balanced out by some real magical pieces (like Ame Henderson’s dance in the park in Kensington Market and Ghost Station) that took me entirely out of myself. I think exploring la Nuit Blanche should feel like being transported into an alternate reality.

    I didn’t see as much this year, so maybe it isn’t fair to judge. But of what I did see, I felt a lack of intimacy.

  2. I spent most of my time in Zone A this year and I thought that Nuit Blanche was amazingly better than last year. It was fantastic that they opened up Maple Leaf Gardens and allowed people inside.

  3. Why did Spacing send out a writer who didn’t even do any research? This is very poor coverage of an excellent event.

  4. i saw most of the exhibits this year and i enjoyed it much more than last year. but the experience is so variable depending on where you are and when you get there.

  5. Does anyone know what happened at Zombies in Condoland? When I got there, there were huge crowds gathered around the skating rink/pond, with some drunken guys engaging in waterfights and streaking. Looked like the venue got hijacked.

    We found people lying on a lawn, but then a zombie nurse with a megaphone told us to “get off her set.” We were pretty bummed about the experience, but all the write-ups so far mention none of this.

  6. Julia: if you hadn’t noticed, there are 3 or 4 other posts about the event, not just this one. And Lord knows you wouldn’t want someone to write about the event in the same way most everyone experienced the event. People meandered, wandered around and bumped into things. Which is what this post seems to be about. And I think Jeeff’s post hits on the head: where you wandered determined your experience.

  7. The light installation under the Dufferin Bridge was not included in the Nuit Blanche programs, however it was an installation sponsored by the Parkdale Village BIA. Unfortunately, this installation along with the musicians under the bridge were brought on very last minute and therefore not in any of the BIA’s marketing materials.

    The Parkdale Village BIA also had printed up its own program entitled “Parkdale Passport”. Included in this passport was an explination regarding the 19 installations the Parkdale Village BIA sponsored. Included in those was the vintage TTC streetcar, which was a mobile installation to bring people into Parkdale.