Nuit Blanche Party-Crashers

This past Saturday, Oct 2/2010, the city of Toronto hosted it’s fifth annual Nuit Blanche art festival. The event features a large selection of galleries, installations and performances which run from sunset to sunrise. At around 6 on Saturday I went down to Queen Street West to set up an unofficial outdoor gallery and do some live painting. Shortly after I arrived Sanjez, the rock balancer, arrived and started his zen demonstrations under a street light. I set up a couple of tents with lights and had planned on having music and projections, and of course advertised as such, but met with technical difficulties which left me with out the animations and soundtracks. I didn’t get to down about the films because they were also being shown at 401 Richmond Street but painting without music is not nearly as fun. Fortunately for me another tent appeared and before long a DJ was blasting dance music out in the streets. None of us were officially part of the program, but the time it was dark, there was a party crashing at Queen and Soho.

I’ve exhibited at Nuit Blanche for the past three years, twice as a renegade performer and once as an official part of the program. (My application was rejected this year though that wasn’t going to stop me.) The experience is not unlike any of the day time festivals in which I’ve exhibited as I always find the crowds the most intriguing thing. Only thing is at night they are mostly all drunk. By performing in the streets and at large public festivals I get to meet all sorts of people from all over the world and of all walks of life. In this sense my perspective on the event is likely quite different from yours. In fact I have never seen any of the art unless it happened to stroll down Queen West.

I do however get to see, and meet the crowds. Tonnes and tonnes of people attend Nuit Blanche and by setting up an interactive and intimate spectacle I get to experience many of these weirdoes first hand. Like all outdoor activities the weather has a strong hold on the attendance. I would say that this was by far the slowest year, and the majority of the audience was young and intoxicated, but that has a lot to do with the cold and damp air. Most of the respectable folks vanished by 10 o’clock because you had to drunk enough just to be outside. Last year a terrible storm postponed my set up, but afterwards the sky cleared and the warm air brought people in droves. The year before that was beautiful that the streets were all ready filled before the event even started. Despite the thinner gathering and the extremely inebriated state, the crowds still showed up with force and put on a great show.

The DJ booth beside me encouraged a continuous dance floor and it felt not unlike painting at rave. The streets were packed and I met hundreds of people, many new faces and a few old friends. It was really fun talking to all the young people who really seemed to dig the silly thing that I do. I got some people to pose and I had to pose for some camera’s. I met very few tourists, only two or three people from England and Ireland. Usually I meet people from all sorts of places. I did however notice an astronomical amount of business cards disappear between the hours of 10 and midnight.

I finished my live performance shortly after 1 and spent the rest of the night sharing stories and explaining the art to people who talked loudly and swayed from side to side. You can get some good laughter out of these people with a well delivered tale and I had an awesome time hanging out on the street. Around 4 o’clock my generator ran out of fuel so I called it quits and went packed up. I got home around 5:30 stuffed my face with some food and slept through the next day.

Since I awoke I’ve discussed the show with my friends who went out and I read a few reviews. I found it funny because my friends had more to say about how drunk they all were actual art. The fact they made it home with out vomiting is in fact an art in itself. The newspapers and web-articles I read mostly talked about the crowds some praising the audience others irritated by the immaturity. Regardless I had one of the best seats in the house as me and the other party crashers where right in the middle of the crowd.


About heyapathy

HEY APATHY! is an ongoing artistic investigation into the monstrous metropolis, the people, and the mechanics of being. Alternative Comics, surreal ink drawings, strange stories, street painting, murals and animation. Mike Parsons live in Toronto and draws lots of pictures.
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