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Twenty spectacular things to see at Toronto's Nuit Blanche

In this week’s mayoral debate on the arts, two of the five candidates singled out Scotiabank Nuit Blanche as their most transformative arts experience ever. The annual all-free dusk-to-dawn affair is indeed a wild ride – a wide-scale street party, a Halloween for the hipsters and an avant garde arts mega-event for curious vampires or anyone unafraid of mobs and inspired experimentation.

This year, 120 installations, videos, performance pieces and what-have-yous are spread across a variety of neighbourhoods and areas, including Chinatown, Fort York, Nathan Phillips Square and Roundhouse Park and Bremner Boulevard. Plotting one’s plan of attack for catching the projects of personal interest is half the fun. And while there is all sorts of information at Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, here are the attractions that receive our votes for must-see happenings:

Use your smartphone and find your way there by clicking any address.

If you like outdoor installations

GLOBAL RAINBOW by Yvette Mattern

222 Spadina Ave.,Toronto

From Chinatown to the CN Tower, a Dark Side of the Moon-y spectrum of light blazes the night sky. Best viewing (222 Spadina Ave., Toronto) south of Dundas Avenue.

You’ll also like:

  • Big Top Grand Stand by SuttonBeresCuller
    The “night circus” is one of themes of this year’s Nuit Blanche. Here we have an flamboyant homage to circus sights and sounds involving a stack of carnival concession stands at Clarence Square Park. (Spadina Avenue, Toronto at Wellington Street West).
  • Made in China by Maria Ezcurra
    If you’re into giant accumulations of clothing stretched across two buildings this laundry is just the ticket.(330 Spadina Ave., Toronto).
  • Bright Bundle by Bruno Billio
    The Fort York National Historic Site is set aglow not by bombs bursting in air, but by a 1000-metre ribbon of LED lights that pulsates and hopefully exhilarates. (Fort York National Historic Site, Toronto).

If you like performance art

HOLOSCENES by Lars Jan and Early Morning Opera

255 Bremner Blvd., Toronto

It’s not over until the fat lady swims, in an aquarium equipped with a hydrophone that transmits an underwater soundscape of movement and churning water. At Roundhouse Park (255 Bremner Blvd., Toronto)

You’ll also like:

  • Split Chorale for Viljo Revell by Kathryn Andrews and Scott Benzel
    Some city politicians go on and on, and so to does a choral ensemble partaking in a marathon drone in a performance-art piece that also involves a video montage in the City Hall Rotunda (Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen St. W.).
  • Metamorphosis by Wanwu
    Bathed in green light, an operatic performance happens hourly and hits the high notes atop the roof of City Hall (Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen St. W.).
  • Dress Rehearsal by Tor Lukasik-Foss
    Not one for the money or two for the the show, but definitely three to get ready. A trio of translucent boxes installed in the loading dock beneath City Hall reveal shadows of performers preparing themselves (Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen St. W.).

If you like something different

ICEBREAKER by Diane Landry

18 York St., Toronto

An indoor kinetic sculpture (viewed from outside through windows) has a rower up a creek without actual water. (18 York St., Toronto)

You’ll also like:

  • HALFLIFE by Shasti O’Leary-Soudant
    This will one will go viral at 7 p.m, when “disease carriers” will set out infecting willing participants, using invisible UV-reactive ink markers. At midnight, all converge at Nathan Phillips Square for quarantine and curing.
  • Cascade by Anandam Dancetheatre, Brandy Leary, Eamon Mac Mahon, James Bunton
    In which a suspended, slowly descending and ascending mass of bodies create a cascade of humanity. At The Globe and Mail press hall) (425 Wellington St. W., Toronto).
  • The Fortune-Teller Machine - Zardoz by Fastwurm
    There’s Ford Nation, and then there’s divination. Predictive witches in custom-designed caravan roam Bremner Boulevard between Spadina Avenue and Lower Simcoe Street and give out personal fortune messages.

If you like video art

CONGA IRREVERSIBLE by Los Carpinteros

Fort York National Historic Site

Revolution, or devolution? With a video that captures a conga line dancing in reverse, a Havana-based collective comments on Cuba’s backward socio-political situation (Fort York National Historic Site).

You’ll also like:

  • Chic Point by Sharif Walked
    From an artist who lives and works in both Israel and Palestine, a piece that explores fashion for Israeli checkpoints (Fort York National Historic Site).
  • Body of War by Isabel Rocamora
    How does a soldier learn brutality? Parental guidance is advised for a video set in the geography of the Normandy landings and punctuated by the testimonies of past and current members of armed forces. (Fort York Visitors Centre).

If you like confined spaces

THE MELODIOUS MALFEASANCE MEAT-GRINDING MACHINE by Dana Sherwood

Renaissance Toronto Downtown Hotel Parkette

The American artist enjoys alterations, carnival music and passersby peaking into a gypsy caravan, where a person is seen stuffing the sausage. And by “stuffing the sausage” we mean stuffing the sausage (Renaissance Toronto Downtown Hotel Parkette).

You’ll also like:

  • Screaming Booth by Chélanie Beaudin-Quintin
    Nuit Blanche can be frustrating at times, with crowds and commotion. Let it all out at three locations:
    280 Spadina Ave., Toronto
    290 Queen St. W., Toronto
    180 Spadina Ave., Toronto
  • One Night Stand by Normative
    Double exposure? A pair of photo booths at separate locations connect strangers and produces a photo strip of their nights:
    Artscape Wychwood Barns, 601 Christie St., Toronto
    Scadding Court Community Centre, 707 Dundas St. W., Toronto
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