September 28, 2013
by Canadian Architect
Scotiabank Nuit Blanche is Toronto’s annual all-night celebration of contemporary art, produced by the City of Toronto in collaboration with Toronto’s arts community. Since 2006, the event has featured more than 850 official art installations created by nearly 3,500 artists and has generated more than $138 million in economic impact for Toronto.
From sunset to sunrise on Saturday, October 5, 2013 more than 110 contemporary art projects will captivate audiences across Toronto. City-produced exhibitions are centralized downtown along the subway lines, while independent projects are located at various sites across the city.
As a centrepiece installation for Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, world-renowned artist Ai WeiWei of China will create a new edition of his sculpture Forever Bicycles at Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square. Additionally, this year’s event will feature a variety of independent projects and three curated exhibitions.
A highlight by a local artist/designer is The Somnambulist by Deborah Moss in the Queen Street windows of Toronto’s Joe Fresh Queen and Portland store. Moss is co-founder of Moss & Lam, a custom art studio that she started with her partner Edward Lam in 1987. Since its inception, Moss & Lam have been commissioned by some of the world’s leading interior designers and architects to create custom artwork, wall surfaces and three-dimensional installations that are visually and structurally integrated with their environments.
In this piece, two monumental panes of acrylic boldly display literary passages from Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, and Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past in overscaled font, with each letter set in Swarovski crystals. Both excerpts express deeply personal and intimate feelings about the night. The panels are displayed leaning on an angle, like pages of an open book, their slick surfaces illuminated in the darkness of the night with photographic spot lights that cast a single, dramatic focus on each passage, conjuring a mood of theatricality and beauty. The texts, meant to be read privately in a book, are now presented at a monumental scale, employing materials normally used in the world of display and advertising. The title Somnambulist, loosely referring to a sleepwalker or someone is a trance-like state, heightens the aura of the work.
Another featured highlight is Rumbling Drumlins by Toronto-based architecture firm AGATHOM Co. Foro them, the site is always the starting point, a space where structures fit and sit in existing physical and/or natural environments. Rumbling Drumlins explores the ersatz qualities of a traditional parade float as a way to highlight the haphazard nature of our built environment. The float poses some fundamental questions about the city and its environs: questions addressing not only the physical presences that surround us but also more sensory and ambient occurrences.
On a daily basis residents and visitors alike find themselves asking questions about a city. “What’s that smell?” “What is that noise?” “Where is it coming from?” Other more substantive questions about built environments may only come to the fore when art and design triggers them. “Who built that?” “Why?” “Is it supposed to mean something?” This parade float attempts to distil the concerns of a city into floating responses for the inhabitants. Rumbling Drumlins acts in the same spirit of welcoming questions and making connections between what surrounds us and its significance.
For more information on Nuit Blanche, please visit www.scotiabanknuitblanche.ca. Sign up for the Celebrate Toronto eNewsletter at www.toronto.ca/e-updates/ and follow @sbnuitblancheTO for updates and sneak peeks.
scotiabank nuit blanche
deborah moss’s the somnambulist
rendering of rumbling drumlins by AGATHOM Co. photo by serafima korovina.