Thursday, October 8, 2015

A night out

For reasons I don't fully understand our schedule just keeps getting crazier and crazier. (it's probably the house but if I think too much about that it will be scary.  let's just call it Life.)  But when you get a notice in your mailbox advising you that many of the local streets will be closed for pedestrian traffic on Saturday night, well, you just gotta make time to get out and see what's happening!

Colourful textiles in Union Station
For ten years now, Toronto has had an all-night outdoor art event called Nuit Blanche.  I've never been, but I'd seen some pretty huge and amazing art installations too big to go in and out in one day that got put up early and left out for public viewing enjoyment for a while afterward.  Those installations gave me the impression the whole event was about magical transformations of public spaces, and I was really excited to go.


It turns out that no, Nuit Blanche is not always magical, with some totally unexpected thing emerging out of the darkness.  Some of the art required you to line up for twenty or so minutes.  One piece was so heavy on the flash lighting I was sure it would produce seizures for at least one person before dawn.  I don't think I'd rush out to do it again, and I may not get the chance either, because when I read the news the next morning I discovered that there has has been a steady upswing in drunken teenagers on the streets in recent years (which explains some things that seemed odd on the subway that night) and this year, some stabbings even.  The longtime corporate sponsor had already decided not to renew and it seems unclear who else would take it on. 

I didn't know all that on the day though. From the time I got the notice, I was watching for installations that might go up early.  The sculpture garden next door was a likely venue and sure enough, We Got Sculpture!

Another installation was going into the park across the street but I looked and looked right up to Saturday afternoon, to no avail.  What I did avail was that the park across the street is gorgeous.  How did I keep not noticing that all these months?

At dusk, we dashed over to Union Station, where we joined a lineup for a few minutes spent in a white boxy tent where prisms cast light on the walls, and found the hanging textiles at the top of the post.

Then we went back to the park and found the installation: a giant booklet of white plastic sheets filled with anecdotes from local residents about all the reasons they love this particular pocket of Toronto.  One young girl said it was the cinema downstairs.  I'm with her!  Pete wrote on a hanging sheet that he loves the running trails.  I just wrote "I feel happy here" which sums it up perfectly.  The art project wasn't that exciting to look at, but the feeling around it, with all sorts of happy friendly people gathering to read the pages, was lovely. 

Any time the busy streets of this city get closed to vehicles is a pretty exciting thing.

This is Bay Street, which during a weekday is jam-packed with cars.  I couldn't not stop to take a picture from the yellow line in the middle, even though my camera isn't up to managing whatever giant light that was on the right.  The golden tower at the end of the street is Old City Hall.

At regular City Hall, the still-present Toronto sign had been transformed from Colourful to Plastered With Photo Portraits.

Which, of course, you can't see at this distance.  It was a cool idea - people were lined up down the block to have their picture taken, and then a big sheet with their face in it was printed out and glued with water and brooms onto the ground of the plaza between the pond and the main building in a giant spiral.  I didn't get back to see it this week but I am pretty sure the whole place was full of faces by dawn.

Another City Hall display was a wall of these garbage stacks.  The installation was restricted to bales of plastic and metal recycling but it was still pretty, erm, aromatic - and I felt hugely sympathetic to the hosts who had to stand beside it for the duration.  Really powerful though to see all those colours and bulk and know that it's stuff we have thrown away and still takes up space somewhere.

My favourite of all the installations we saw was inspired by the big "Park Here" sign over the Bay Street underpass that lets drivers into the garage under city hall.  The artist covered the entire driveway with wood chips and small branches with leaves still on them, then positioned a collection of trees and pretty fencing across many of the parking spaces inside.

It really did feel like a park by night.  But oh golly, there was a LOT of wood chip dust and people were coughing as they came out.  I would not have done it if I had asthma, that's for sure.

After some more adventures we tried to see one more exhibit a subway ride away but the lineup for it was just too long and we were feeling our non-adolescent ages.  So we went home again to our own little sculpture-neighbour...

and hit the hay.  I noticed that not many people were making it all the way over to theses sculptures on the night, but in the days since, lots of people have been coming to admire them and take pictures.

You know what I love most, though?

The sign on the upper part of the gate.  It says "Sculpture Garden", and it always makes me so illogically happy to see it, it's so beautiful.

And now I had better get on with things, but thank you for justifying me sitting down to write all this out!  It's one of the nicest breaks I have, writing something here at Hugs, even if I don't get to do it every day.  Hopefully that will happen again someday... things have to settle down eventually, right?

Don't answer that, heh.

Okay, off we go, and I hope to see you again soon!

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