Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Niut Blanche 2009 review

I finally got around to doing the whole Niut Blanche thing. For those who don't know, it's a whole night of various art pieces throughout the city from dusk to dawn, and it's free. It's been around for a few years but I was always busy or whatever and I wasn't real clear on what it was. But Alisa does the whole experience every year and invited me so we stocked up on water, munchies, comfortable shoes and an umbrella and made a night of it.

7pm ~ Nuit Blanche officially starts, I haven't left home yet but CIUT is playing an electronic soundtrack while the lights on the CN Tower change and pulsate to the beat. It's not dark enough yet to get the full effect though.

8pm ~ Meet up at The R.O.M. where they are showing an exhibit of photos and covers from "Vanity Fair" going back to 1913. This isn't really an actual Nuit exhibit but rather an ongoing one that they are including in for free. Fairly crowded but the line up moves quickly. Not surprisingly we prefer the old black and white photos, Louise Brooks and her shining black do, James Joyce and his eyepatch, Cary Grant, Albert Einstien, Sergi Eisenstien, H.G.Wells, Picasso, Jean Harlow, Kate Hepburn. Someone wonders aloud if Kate is related to Audrey and if Jean Harlow copped her look from Marylin Monroe. Time to move on. By the time we get outside the line is winding around the corner.

9:15pm ~ The Royal Conservatory; Now we're talking, a sound college made up of musicians on three floors playing sustained notes with plenty of echo and coloured lights. In the auditorium there are eight singers exchanging more sustained notes. Eerie. Sounds like the soundtrack from Kubricks "2001". I would have turned the lights down for more atmosphere though. The Royal also has a collection of cool antique instruments behind glass. Outside a large group of buskers have shown up to take advantage of the crowds provided by the now long lineups. The usual jugglers, giant unicycle rider and a troop of Morris Dancers. For those who don't know Morris Dances are English folk dancers who wear baby blue hats, vests, kneepants and bells on their legs and shoes while dancing in circles while waving sticks and hankies. They look like the Tetley Tree Folk from the old commercial. Why the English who had the worlds greatest empire and body of literature also produced the world's silliest folk dance I'm sure I don't know. Afterwards we stop off at Subway to polish off a quick hogie. I mention this because it's almost the only money I had to spend all night.

11:30 ~ Hart House; Heading south we reach U of T where CIUT's new digs are, they're not actually home since they are broadcasting from the CN Tower. However in the courtyard the Foodjammers have a giant wheel offering coffee snowcones, which we pass on thanks, seems somewhat less than hygenic. There's also a blasting techno soundtrack which we also pass on. Inside there are several photo exhibits which are rather dull and we pass through quickly. However there are also some more interesting video art pieces which we spend more time on. There's one of a mirror image of a woman banging her head against a wall (with sound), and another of a guy hyperventilating loudly. There are also some silent ones from 1970 with some guy standing in a barn and dropping stuff and another guy walking down the side of a building, those look they belong in the creepy video from "The Ring". Speaking of creepy some group called Cry School Yearbook are taking photos of people done up in zombie goth make up for an imaginary school yearbook. There's a bit of a wait so we make an appointment for 5:30am, which is quite a commitment and decide to come back. Outside The CFS is protesting tuition fees by showing "V for Vendetta" on the side of a building and giving out free popcorn, cotton candy and hot chocolate. I'm no fan of CFS grandstanding but we'll take their free munchies though.

12:30am ~ The Polish Veteran's Hall; Outside is some kind of rickety stick canopy while inside another dull photo exhibit along with a short film about a guy who graphically kills his plumber so he can take his job. I assume this is supposed to be some kind of comment on the economic meltdown but it's mostly just gratuitous violence. There is also a photocopied zine handout which conjures up fond memories of the 1980's art zines. They also have some kind of interactive piece but we judge the lineup as being too long. All in all fairly dull stop so why does the Polish Art exhibit have a good size crowd? Because they have the best food (Yay! perogies and cabbage rolls) and they have beer (Yay! Polish beer) that's why. A few doors over is Steelworker's Hall on Cecil street which has a Caribana related display of large dayglo dolls made up like Caribana parade dolls looking like a lightbrite game. They loudly ban cameras from this one but Alisa sneaks a pic anyway before we make a beeline out of there.

1:00am ~ The AGO; They have a display out front of discarded computer consoles covered with flower stickons. Don't know what's inside since they also have another long line up so we head down to OCAD where they have giant stuffed white Casper looking toys scattered about while smoke machines belch away. Around the corner is the inevitable impromptu rave. Down at the Music Gallery they have...no music. But they do have a ten foot wedding cake with a trampoline on top that you, yes you, can jump on with a bouncing bride while more annoying techno music plays. Yet another line up for that one of course.

2:30am ~ City Hall; At the Armory st. entrance there is a "12 Hour interpretive dance piece" about dead philosophers or whatever. Yeah, OK, whatever you say. Moving right along to Nathan Phillips Square they have giant flashing lights spelling out random four letter words while white noise blares. It's ok but we wonder if better use could have been made of such a large central place. On the other hand back in the nineteen sixties when Mayor Phill Givens bought the Henry Moore sculpture and put in on display some people were so outraged that he lost the next election, now city hall is being used to blast out Throbbing Gristle while people wait to see if an obscene word will inadvertently pop up. Toronto certainly has come a long way baby.

3:00am ~ The Royal Bank on Bay st. in the financial district; Midway rides on Bay St! I know this is supposed to symbolize the stockmarket rollercoaster and all, but more importantly; Midway rides on Bay St! Actually there's just two; a giant slide and the Avalanche ride ( it's kind of like the Pirate ship at Wonderland), and there's the usual linups, but thank God for artful butting in line at least at the Avalanche ride which wakes me up nicely thanks.

3:45am ~ Old City Hall has another lineup? At 3:45am? Go home already people. Trinity Spadina Church (where the Cowboy Junkies recorded) has an even longer one. I'd like to see the interactive music experience at Massey Hall but I'm told that the lineup there is even worse. So heading back west we pass through that tiny park behind City Hall where there's supposed to be a ghost walk. Actually it's a group of people in white sheets reading some sort of chant. The photo in the guide shows them glowing green but it's just guys in sheets. Alisa likes it but I think it could have used some dry ice.

4:15am ~ The AGO is now closed but the Cinemateque is still open. They're showing the 1903-04 silent films of George Melies including the classic "Voyage to the Moon" accompanied by live piano to a full house. I love silent films but I don't usually get to see them on a big screen. It's good chance to take off our shows, polish off some chocolate and take a load off for a bit. It's 5am and the theatre is still packed when we leave.

5:15am ~ Passing through King's College Circle on our way back to our Hart House appointment (remember?) we run into some die-hards passing out sparklers. Much spinning and twirling about while snapping blurry photos ensues.

5:30am ~ Back at Hart House; Exactly on time to the second with the afore mentioned diehards in tow to get our gothy pictures taken. No more lineups, no more wheel of coffee snowcones, no more free cotton candy and popcorn. But we do get our photos done and leave with goth makeup intact after hanging out and making shadow puppets on the video screens. We have officially been up too long.

6:40am ~ St. Thomas Anglican Church on Huron St.; There was supposed to be a hologram display with music, but by the time we get there they are packing up equipment and the music is done. There are still a few holograms though and a strange collection of portraits of famous people burned into pieces of toast. I guess the message is that Charles Darwin and Karl Marx are toast. But then why is Tim Allen here praytell? Anyhow there's also lots of free cookies and tea to stock up on for the trek home.

7:00am ~ Bloor St.; Walking back to the car and wondering if anything is still open. Nope, The Bata Museum is dark as a tomb and the ROM and Conservatory are locking up. However turn on the car radio and CIUT is still playing an electronic drone while the lights still pulse on the CN Tower.

7:30am ~ Home; And so to bed. Over and out.

No comments:

Post a Comment