Sunday, October 05, 2008

Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2008

Yesterday into today Nuit Blanche was once again held along the streets of downtown Toronto. Sponsored by Scotiabank, Nuit Blanche features contemporary art installations and performances around key sections of the city from 6:52 pm to sunrise, and there's no admission fee required; you simply show up, walk around, and enjoy the sites.

So of course, one question that needs to be asked is what is art? Art, like many things, is subjective, and it means many things to different people. For me, art is something that mimics reality, that helps me loose myself in the recreation of a moment, the experience of that moment, and I certainly found this at Nuit Blanche, though not through the installations.

I was out for about 2 hours and I walked all over downtown. The light displays at City Hall mimicking Pong and a Space Invaders style game were pretty cool (though I'm sure murder for the city's electric bill), and the city was alive with a very vibrant feel. I was also very entertained by some drummer named Mike who was at the corner of Yonge and Dundas, but apparently he's been coming there for 25 years and had nothing to do with the show. Too bad, as he was bloody awesome.

I saw a few installation films (that were pretty bad so I ran out), some kind of cocoon installation in a small park, and a waterfall made of recycled plastic, all of which failed to move me; I was pretty disappointed with the bulk of the show itself.

There were a bunch of people getting painted up like zombies, but this was also rather underwhelming as well, as zombies should smell more like brains and less like weed. Sadly, being a modern art show, the smell of marijuana was everywhere, and I never could stand that smell. At all.

No, I can't say that I was too keen on Nuit Blanche itself. So what did I enjoy so much about the show? In truth, I found the most enjoyable aspect simply to be walking around the streets of Toronto with my friends, laughing, talking, and joking (One Timbit!), as we never get to see each other often enough. The art show itself was little more than an excuse to hang out and have some fun, and I'll remember that moment long after I've forgotten some silly projection of someone doing ballet.

The show helped me to remember the importance of the people in my life and what they mean to me, and that's how Nuit Blanche helped me to think outside a box.


Jonathan Hlibka said...

SWEET! You are the first person to make even a slightly negative comment about our "Cocoon Garden" installation. On behalf of Ultra Lime Arts, I want to thank you for the plug. And truthfully I'm happy we didn't please everyone, that's what Disney is for.

Here are some photos to help your readers visualize what you're talking about:

Great blog, I'll let you know what else we're doing so you can slam it as well :P
Jonathan Hlibka

sookie said...

Missed it myself...heard similar things about Nuit Blanche from friends though...and from the guy I can hear on the phone at the end of the hall.
Just checked cocoon boy's pics out of curiousity....wasn't impressed either. I mean, these guys get $500 grants to put on something cool. What is that saran wrap?
I'd rather stay in and watch Fox and the Hound.

Juxtapose said...

jonathan hlibka: DUDE! No worries, I call 'em like I see 'em.

In all honesty, the "Cocoon Garden" would have been a whole lot deeper if there were things _in_ the cocoons (aside from lights), things that would really make people stop and think. Like a pig fetus, or a box of Pop Eye Cigs, or a deck of playing cards. Could've been a lot of deep meaning there, but instead it was just a bunch of wrapped chicken wire.

Disney scares the crap out of me, and sure, keep me in the loop. I love ripping on stuff 'cause stuff usually sucks.

sookie: What can I say, I'm a man with a commanding voice. An irritating, I-want-to-gouge-my-eyes-out-when-I-hear-it kind of voice, but you know, when I speak orphans cry so I call that a win.

I didn't want to touch the cocoons, whether I like a piece of art or not, I certainly respect the artist(s) to _not_ touch their stuff without their leave (unless touching it's part of the experience).

As I was leaving the park though, some idiot ripped a cocoon down, and someone from the show came over to give him crap. Well deserved I say, as art shouldn't be vandalized.

Jonathan Hlibka said...

Hey kids!
sookie: We did not get grant money for this work like the nazi run harper-USrepublicanFunded-conservative party would have you believe. I wouldn't bitch if I did get the 500 bucks considering how much it cost us to underwrite this project. 50 boxes of cellophane ain't cheep even when you're buying it at the dollar store. You should buy a cocoon to help the cause sookie, that is if you can *afford* it. You can sell off your 200 or so Disney Limited Edition VHS tapes on ebay, that you fondly remember watching after your 'special time with uncle', to get enough money to pay for a single piece of my creation.*cough* And seriously, after all these years of "staying in" to watch the Fox and the Hound, aren't you tired of jerking off to the scene where they meet?? "We'll be friends forever!"

juxtapose: To answer the second point which I respect much more since you were actually there, I/we don't attempt to make "deep" art or anything that pretentious. I'm arrogant enough as it is so I keep it out of my art. The artistic statement is probably the most pretentious thing about the whole piece. As a group we discussed if it was a good idea to put stuff in them and my answer was 'no'. Putting something inside them beyond the sound pieces takes away from the dialogue caused by looking through an empty shell. My goal was to get the kind of response you gave me (by asking/telling me to fill the shell). By doing so, we made you look beyond the piece and into yourself. That is how I gaged the success of the work. Overall its been 99% successful. :)

I almost kicked the shit out of a couple of guys that night for tearing down cocoons. If only I had the energy to do so... You have my permission to beat the living piss out of anyone who fucks with my art in the future, I'll even jump in and later buy you a beer afterward. "We'll be friends forever!"

Juxtapose said...

Hey Jonathan,

So long as you yourself are happy with your final product, that's the most important thing that should matter to you.

If you've achieved what you designed and succeeded at what you set out to do, then that's a win whether others like it or not, and while the piece wasn't my personal cup of tea, congrats to you for a) getting it in the show and b) sticking with your own design.

And yeah, while I'd like to beat the shit out of a lot of people, there's this things called the law that kind of gets in the way, and spending a night in a cell with Bruno for roughing up some vandalistic moron isn't exactly high on my list of things to so.

Bruno always wants the top bunk to. Damn selfish Bruno.