Nuit Blanche 2017 : Issues and Art

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It was a busy weekend for the City of Toronto. Besides hosting the Invictus Games, the city welcomed over one million people to the twelfth annual Nuit Blanche festival. This year the theme of the event was ‘Many Possible Futures’ in commemoration of Canada 150. The street art festival welcomed over 90 contributions and installations by more than 350 artists.

If you didn’t opt to battle through traffic, crowded streets and transit lines here are a few highlights from the night.

“Arts and culture are the heart and soul of a great city, a universal creative language that brings people together and creates a real sense of community,” Mayor John Tory said in a news release issued on Friday. “I encourage Toronto residents from across the city to take part in this celebration of art.”

There were four major areas of the event, each with their own theme ;

“Taking to the Streets” at Queen’s Park and University of Toronto, “Calculating Upon the Unforeseen” along Dundas Street from the Art Gallery of Ontario to Yonge-Dundas Square,“Life on Neebahgeezie; A Luminous Engagement” on Bay Street between Queen Street and King Street and “Monument to the Century of Revolutions” at Nathan Phillips Square.”

Each section was interactive, enchanting and mesmerizing in their own right. The art installations brought a different kind of traffic as typically found within the City. Drake was even spotted downtown at Yonge- Dundas square enjoying the art. This year the contributors were asked to ‘think forward’ and they delivered on that request. Installations and exhibitions focused on portraying messages and illustrations of  protest and social change, revolution and resistance, difference and acceptance, the unseen, cultural endurance and Indigenous visibility.

Found at Nathan Phillips Square, Mexican Revolution 1917 Zapatistas Army of National Liberation Uprizing 1994, a social sculpture as part of the Century of Revolutions exhibition curated by Nato Thompson. The container revisits two important years in Mexico’s history: 1917, when a civic constitution was adopted in Mexico after seven years of civil war; and 1994, when the Army of National Liberation entered the town of San Christobal de Las Casas to continue revolutionary struggle for the rights of the indigenous peoples of Mexico. The event’s Instagran handle gives highlights of many presentations.

Automobile, 2012 -present a sound performance featuring cars with super modified stereo systems, part of the Taking to the Streets exhibition curated by Barbara Fischer. A group of cars with souped-up sound systems are parked under a bridge on Wellesley Street and Queen’s Park Cresent West, in front of the parliament building. You can hear the bass way before you see them. Joe Namy’s composition connects these systems together in a 6 channel immersive sound piece amplified through the cars.

The issues presented at Nuit Blanche bare relevance to today’s society and the future. Perhaps in keeping with theme “Many possible futures,” It explores the possibility to correct and resolve the social ills riddled in our society. Or at least keep that hope alive.

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