When I posted my open letter to the organizers of Nuit Blanche, I only hoped that it would at least be read by someone with the power to propose improvements and changes. Had I a forum to attend in person, I would have marched on in and expressed how important this event is to me, and how much I want others to love it as I do. I definitely see room for improvements, but I will never deny that Nuit Blanche is a second Halloween to me (and Halloween is, by far, my favourite holiday).
In the last two days, I have seen promising and wonderful things from the organizers and others, like myself, blogging and discussing ways to ensure that the downswing this year is but a tiny blip on a long-lasting radar. No matter what flaws we have found, those of us who enjoy Nuit understand that we are lucky to have such an event, and want to keep it going strong.
I have seen some great suggestions that complement my own, as well as others that are not as feasible in my mind, but could also help. I don’t believe running the event on two nights, or running it on a Sunday night “to avoid drunks” will work; the former is far too cost prohibitive and requires more staffing committments, and the later excludes a lot of family and schoolchildren, which would be a damn shame. I’m in the middle on the notion of having drinking areas as part of Nuit Blanche itself, as I see this only encouraging the carnival atmosphere many are complaining about, while also feeling that regular participant The Drake Hotel has this covered for us. The Lightbox was also serving,providing another zone with a venue for both art and a little liquor. I’m not going to deny that I had a few shots during the night, but I didn’t become intoxicated beyond the ability to appreciate and enjoy the art I’d come to see. Perhaps one venue per zone offering late serving might be prudent, but we’ll see. This blog from Twitter user mrtunes discusses the pros of drinking in the context of Nuit pretty well, and reflects on why we react so strongly to ‘drunks on the streets’.
For the record, for all of my prowling in 10 hours, I only saw one group of blatant, rowdy drunks, and that was around 2am. Hardly a cause for pitchforks and torches, given the ground we covered.
Another great list, some of which overlapped/echoed my own, was posted by Twitter user feeei. I have to echo that, at the very least, it would be nice if the Zone Information Centres also contained rest/lounge areas. The Phillips Recharge Station was a very cool idea; perhaps having one in each zone along with a few comfy couches and chairs could be considered? Also, as someone extremely allergic to cigarette smoke (one big inhale and my throat is inflammed for five days), I would highly recommend that organizers consider blocking smoking in the smaller alleys holding art (The Swans’ Lake, as an example). It’s one thing as people walk to and from events, and I certainly don’t want to infringe on the rights of smokers to do their thing, but in the closer quarters, it would be beneficial. Additional signage would also be very welcome!
One other note, neglected in my first blog: where have the wilder performance artists gone? Did Ulysses Castellanos bail out on the event or leave town when I was working too hard in recent years? That man knows how to perform!
All in all, while I enjoyed several pieces, the night just wasn’t as magical as other years. 2008, 2006, and 2009 were all stronger years, 2008 especially.
The local blogs and weeklies have begun weighing in on this year’s event as well, whose opinions I value slightly more than the art critics who were astounded by the intentional creation of the disastrous accidents of my youth involving my bedroom fan and a tape-munching stereo, but unable to appreciate how meaning and fun could combine in exhibits like Arrivals and Departures. I’m also noticing others who, like me, seem to find that locals tend to engage the overall audience better than the international artists with their exhibits (Lower Bay Station, I’m looking at you).
More Nuit Blanche Critiques/Reviews:
Eye Weekly gives their rundown, encouraging art snobs and party hearties to get along; I agree!
The Torontoist makes some solid points; I particularly love the notion of more cohesive exhibits grouped together. I thought this was the intent of curated zones. In this year’s Nuit, I felt very let down by the curators and did not receive their messages at all. Perhaps the expansive Zone C needs to be broken into two zones, with Zone D being Queen West/Liberty/Parkdale, with its own curator for cohesion?
BlogTO takes a look at each zone: read their rundowns on Zone A, Zone B and Zone C at the links. I couldn’t agree more with their list of stinkers for A; their best of nods for Zone B were among my favourites (Allegory…, Later That Night…); their Zone C choices, however, were the cliched ‘artsy critic’ choices, and I beg to differ regarding Vexations (which sounded wonderful on paper and fell completely flat in the beholding) and The Big O (see stereo monster analogy earlier in blog). Also: did they not attend Lightbox events at all? At what other event would someone dream of a singalong to A Clockwork Orange, Resevoir Dogs, Shaun of the Dead, Donnie Darko and South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut? I look forward to a new program of said madness next year, ideally with numbers from Repo! The Genetic Opera, the Richard Cheese version of Down With The Sickness in Dawn Of The Dead and possibly one of the fantastic 80s bits from American Psycho.
I have to say that the organizers have taken all constructive criticism well, offering both Twitter and Facebook as forums for debate and discussion on how to improve and grow one of Toronto’s best cultural offerings. I for one appreciate the multiple responses to my own ideas. Only time will tell how much is taken to heart, but it takes humble people to rebroadcast blogs criticizing their work. Feel free to join the discussion still ongoing via Twitter, by using hashtag #snbTO or @sbNuitBlancheTO your thoughts, or alternately, head to their Facebook fan page and join the discussion thread there. You can find me on Twitter @emptysthemepark.
Imagining Daniel Victor invading City Hall with a plethora of Canadian artists a la Neverending White Lights in 2011,