Nuit blanche this year (or what I saw of it) was for the most part disappointing. Of course with contemporary art, one always expects that some displays (or installations as they’re ‘artfully’ called) may not resonate with every person. However, if it were that the statements were too broad or abstract or not meaningful to some, execution would still have gotten some marks. Just like one can admire a well-presented point of view while disagreeing with it, so can one appreciate an artist’s creativity and expression even if the message isn’t aligned with one’s own opinion or passion. The artist’s effort respects the others’ (audience’s or viewers’) time and intellect, which in turn begets respect.
A small number of installations, such as Stereoscope at Toronto’s city hall or A dream of pastures near OCAD merited such respect (at least from the tired owners of feet-about-to-fall-off after a few hours of walking with little to show for it). Conversation # 2 was another such noteworthy piece. The genius of simplicity and creativity in these displays, not to mention the considerable effort (e.g. installing lights behind each of the 960 windows in city hall building, or crafting the intricately timed and positioned interplay of lights, gears, bicycle, and participants) drew the few moments of excitement and admiration in the night.
That is, if we don’t count the people who were just happy that for one Saturday night the city of Toronto wasn’t entirely asleep by 10 pm! It seemed “people on the road” was more of a mentionable this time around on Nuit Blanche.
Or the other “happy” crowd (which yours truly is still trying to figure out) was the kind that arrived at a bar before they started the tour and were anticipating drinking so much (and made good on that expectation) that they handed a credit card to the bar tender before they started drinking, in case they later were not in full control of their signing hands (or remember which one was the signing hand!) Last I heard it was still legal to drink on any night (not just Nuit Blanche) so no reason to go “all out” on the booze, and how ‘interesting’ did they expect the art to be, to have to be drunk to appreciate it! Or maybe…. this was actually an interactive art installation, and I totally didn’t get it (this lack of comprehension has been known to happen – or at least admitted to – about as frequently as the planets of our solar system coming in a straight line, sending fears of doomsday rippling through the faint-hearted!)
Since the next similar planetary alignment is not until 2438 (CNN and NASA say so, and I trust this time the measurement / calculation was in the correct units), I can continue to “get it” as I see fit and therefore hold firm on my pedestrian (pun totally intended) opinions on this year’s “art” displays in Nuit Blanche, both on and off the streets of Toronto.