By Jacqueline Nelson
An exhilarating evening of art, adventure and discovery at Toronto’s second annual Nuit Blanche, and all I can think of are the 12 toilets that eerily puffed fog over Lake Devo last Saturday night. The School of Interior Design, called Ode to the Porcelain Gods an “affectionate poke” at the approval of Toronto’s new six-litre low-flush toilets.
Nuit Blanche is a free all-night contemporary art show celebrating its second year in Toronto. This year the festivities ran from sunset at 7:03 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29, to sunrise at 7:14 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 30, 2007. While the idea of Nuit Blanche got its start in Paris, the event is now global with cities around the world lighting up their nights.
The toilets weren’t the only reason hundreds of people visited Ryerson Campus. The school’s first of three locations was at Devonian Square and the Heaslip House.
For those who ventured off the official Nuit Blanche map towards Pitman Hall found interactive art pieces that begged participation. An enormous grid of white squares, looking like a giant Lite-Brite featured coloured panels that could be arranged to make a pattern atop the glowing squares. There was also a graffiti-able wall (on which one of my friends was inspired to draw a waffle and Pacman) and a giant balloon-filled tent.
The instillations on campus weren’t all Ryerson had to offer. Two other locations on Queen West to housed additional Ryerson displays.
The journey along the street was one prolonged invasion of personal space. Well-dressed Torontnians, mostly clad in black, moved as one herd down the crowded sidewalk, where every gallery was full and each installation was invisible behind the masses.
Such was the case at Ryerson’s presentation of films and photography at the aptly named club, Camera near Ossington Avenue and Queen West. There was barely room to squeeze in the door. The event saw an estimated 1,200 connoisseurs throughout the night and exhibited works by the faculty, students and alumni from the School of Image Arts.
Fourth year photography student Dominic Nahr, 24, was exhibiting a series called When Brothers Fight from a recent trip to the Gaza Strip. The images showed the brutality of civil war. Having already been a staff photographer for Polaris Images in New York and working in Hong Kong, Nahr has a lot of experience. “I don’t really believe in being a student in the standard way we look at what a student is,” he said.
Nahr uses the world of photography as a memory aid as much as a means to make his living. “My mom threw her camera at me and said ‘Dominic, you don’t remember anything!’ I started taking pictures so that I would remember my life.” He also told me he liked my firm handshake. I think we shook hands four times.
On the way out of Camera I had my rear end tapped by a balding man in an expensive looking suit jacket. Apparently where there is art, there is not necessarily class.
We reached Ryerson’s third location at 3 a.m.: The Gladstone’s Art Bar. The line up to get in was about a half-hour long and trailed off down the side of the building. The hotel featured several events for the Nuit, including 18 films by Ryerson students and alumni.
At 4 a.m. my mind was waterlogged from art-overload. Every person, building, and bustling street corner seemed like an instillation of art. It became practically impossible to distinguish between what had been created as an instillation piece and what was just a part of the city.
That night, the city took on a whole new light.