Whether you are a Nuit Blanche newcomer or veteran, it’s hard to predict exactly what the night will have in store for you. For some, the all-nighter art festival will include inspiring art installations; however, there will be a few who walk away with wet socks and disappointment. This year, writers braved the spitting rain as they wandered through the streets of a Nuit Blanche-transformed Toronto; here’s what they found…




Walking in crowds is tough. Walking through crowds at Nuit Blanche is nearly impossible. The flow of people at the beginning of the night was not bad, but by the time I hit Queen and University it was more akin to a scene in World War Z — and that is when I got clotheslined. To be fair, I was pretty aggressively charging through people so I could get to Ai Weiwei’s bike installation (which I thought was fantastic). I was manoeuvering the street corner, while a band played the Pokémon theme song, and suddenly I found myself entangled in a human pretzel with a couple. Their hands were firmly clasped, and so the only option seemed to try and limbo under them. Result: me clotheslined, followed by me sprawled on the ground. That’s contemporary art for you.

Tags: #rough #socialawks #ForeverBikes

— Dryden Bailey



A rebel art project materialized at the corner of Bloor and St. George. In a moving performance art piece, brave volunteers stood outside wearing nothing but skin-tight, skin-coloured clothing; onlookers were encouraged to participate by painting negative words or phrases regarding body image onto the volunteers. Kristina Djokic, a Hart House fitness instructor and the creative force behind the piece, envisioned the release of “names they have called themselves in their heads; names they have called others; words they have used to judge and punish the vessels that carry their souls.” To add to the emotionally charged experience, the painters were encouraged to look the human canvasses in the eye as they painted insults onto their bodies. Physically transposing the abuses we use against our friends’, enemies’, and our own bodies onto a stranger threw into sharp relief how cruelly we often treat such a vital part of ourselves.

Tags: #rebelart #bodyimage #artischange

— Heather Eason



Nuit Blanche has always been known for eccentric displays fit for a Tim Burton film. But one exhibit caught my ears, rather than my eyes. The Composition Engine, curated by Peter Drobac and Maggie Helwig, was a hypnotic soundscape display that featured several talented musicians, singers, and readers seated around the various parts of the Trinity College Chapel. The catch of this exhibit is that the artists will only play if their switch is turned on.

At each artist’s station, there was a lamp and a light switch. When observers chose to flick the switch, turning on the lamp, the artist would perform. Musicians played pieces, singers performed, and readers recited pieces of literature. This exhibit gave the audience the power to create its own art piece at Nuit Blanche. The end result was a unique and mesmerizing sound every time a switch was engaged.

Tags: #supersonic #hypnotic #funkyfresh

— Jonathan Ignacio



Having never been to Nuit Blanche, I had high hopes for the art festival and was prepared for the unexpected — would the streets be lined with interactive pieces of art or would they be jam packed with people trying to understand and manoeuvre around the mess of art, food, and pedestrians? I had hoped for the former, but the latter is what I found on arriving at University Avenue. The amount of art, although well-crafted, was too sparse in comparison to thenumber of people the festival draws annually. Having to push my way past crowds and get tousled by mobs of drunken conga-liners, all while inhaling a stream of a certain “party drug,” are not, in my opinion, the ingredients for a good time. My favourite feature of the festival? The Tiny Tom doughnut truck, where I spent the remainder of my evening.

Tags: #notimpressed #crayy #goodfoodtho

— Emma Kikulis



If you wear one, they will want one. One of my earliest stops of the night was Marcin Kedzior and Christine Kim’s Paper Orbs. Their small parade float was filled with folded orbs hanging from wooden branches; you plucked one down as you walked through, which meant the installation’s structure was constantly changing. The orbs unfold into a circle, which you can wear as a hat, a frilly collar, or a visor around your eyes (though I can’t recommend this last method considering the number of drunk teens you need to dodge at Nuit Blanche).  While I had to wait about 25 minutes to get one, without much more than some nearby food trucks to look at, the experience shaped the rest of my night, with fellow Blanchers continuously asking where they could get one. Watchable art is great, but wearable art is even better.

Tags: #memento #interactiveart  #wheredidyougetyourhat

— Julia Lewis



“Apparently, Kanye is filming a video on Bay Street tonight,” flashes across my phone as I blink at the gaunt screen. Before responding, thinking about the validity of my new-found tip, or waiting for a break in conversation between the people around me, I declare: “You guys… Kanye is at Nuit Blanche.” The sequence of events that ensued after my announcement melted into a slew of “WHERE EXACTLY???” texts, sandwiching down Queen West, and “If I were Kanye I would…” predictions. To me, the art at Nuit Blanche always gets muffled under the sounds of drunken teenagers puking on Bay Street and “I don’t really cares”  rolling out of the mouths of the night’s solicitors. Between my frantic Kanye Easter egg hunt I noticed a towering spider installation with inflated yellow balloons for legs. The legs looked like giant cobs of corn. I was hungry. Kanye never showed up.

Tags: #FindKanye #IDontCare #NoDisrespectToAffleck

— Claudia McNeilly



Since it was my first time attending Nuit Blanche, I was worried, excited, and I was unsure ofwhat to expect. I browsed through the Nuit Blanche booklet to select which exhibitions I wanted to see, and looks can be terribly deceiving. Most of the artwork didn’t look anything like it did in the pictures, which was fairly disappointing. My favourite installation was one I hadn’t planned on seeing, titled Shrine. I loved the symbolism of the piece and how the art spoke for itself. It is a sculpture built of garbage bins in the form of a gothic cathedral. Most of the exhibitions were aesthetically pleasing, but failed to deliver any sort of message; however, this sculpture was able to do both. In the future, I advise you not to plan ahead and to just enjoy the opportunity of walking around Toronto during the night.

Tags: #looksaredeceiving #whimsical #memorable

— Susie Park



Without witnessing Ai Weiwei’s ‘Forever Bicycles’ in person, it is hard to fathom exactly what 3, 144 interconnected bicycles looks like. It is a truly overwhelming thing.

Known for inserting politics into his art, it seems that the focus of this particular instalment is the subjectivity of the viewer. Nuit Blanche patrons could interact with the art piece, walking through and touching, spinning the wheels to personally experiment with the visual effects of the piece. Forever Bicycles is in itself a physical place, a sort of open maze, created from a stretched repetition that seems almost infinite when you are standing within it. The visual effect cannot be understated, and each person had the opportunity for unique perspective, though the physical urge to touch and explore stirred most viewers. As my boyfriend said, “I have this primal urge to climb it. Minutes later, I saw another viewer act on this urge. Unfortunately, event security was quick to suppress his artistic response.

Forever Bicycles will remain in Nathan Phillips Square until October 27, for all those who have not yet experienced the instalment.
— Laura Wittmann



A lot of things went wrong for me at Nuit Blanche 2013.

I attended the outdoor art show this year because of a school assignment. Armed with my pen, notebook, and a friend, I hit the streets with the aim of seeing as many exhibits as possible.

That aim decomposed almost instantly. We were reduced to a snail’s pace by my new boots, which were so painful I had to remove them at one point. We got lost — a lot. We barely made it to ten installations.

Yet, as my friend and I stood in front of Kelly Richardson’s installation, Mariner 9, staring at the desolate landscape of an imagined future Mars, I couldn’t bring myself to feel annoyed or even isolated, as the piece intended.

Standing in the middle of the city next to my best friend, with the night ahead of us, it’s impossible to feel that way.

Tags: #boots #mariner9 #friends

— Sara Gajic


Monica Carinci experienced My Virtual Dream at Nuit Blanche.