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Nuit Blanche

Culture

Nuit Blanche

Night owls rejoice! This art festival will keep you up until the wee hours.

Insomniacs, prepare yourselves for another all-nighter. Rather, prepare yourselves for a sleepless evening occupied by a phantasmagoria of food, festivities, and works of art that might have you convinced you’re dreaming.

Nuit Blanche, a French idiom meaning a night without sleep, was the moniker applied to an international art event founded in Paris in 2002. Finally, on Sept. 26, Nuit Blanche is making its way to Edmonton. Sprawling through the city’s downtown core, the all-night contemporary art spectacle is expected to attract a crowd of over 50,000 patrons during its premiere in Alberta’s capital.

Westerners don’t typically view the urban scape through a lens cloaked by night, and Nuit Blanche is hoping to use the cover of darkness, along with ambitious road closures, food trucks, a night market, and the works of local and international artists alike, to create a uniquely Edmonton experience. “Because it’s so new, people are still wondering, ‘Well, what the heck is Nuit Blanche?’” says Kirsta Franke, program coordinator for the event and 2010 MacEwan University graduate.

In short, Nuit Blanche Edmonton is a one-night art show completely unique from the typical idea of walking around a gallery and pretending to understand the emotional turmoil that artists have splashed across their canvases, while consuming microscopic servings of cheese and
wine in an attempt to be classy.

While Nuit Blanche is still guaranteed to appeal to Edmonton’s artsy folk, the event will likely pull in a much larger demographic, as it will feature a variety of fun and engaging pieces, ranging from interactive works to all-night performances, to the largest-ever rendition of Yoko Ono’s Wish Tree installment in Sir Winston Churchill Square.

“Children, adults, seniors, students, bar-goers alike — everybody’s going to have something to enjoy there,” says Franke, over the soft sounds of the 124 Grand Market, another program that she is responsible for coordinating. Franke attributed the diversity of the featured installments to the work of curator Dave Dyment, who has previously contributed to Nuit Blanche Toronto.

“There’ll be some danger and destruction alongside some poetic and contemplative pieces,” Dyment explains in an email. “There will be bouncy castles, steamrollers, soccer games, balloon rooms, Christmas presents, sound and video works, and so on.”

While the event program has yet to be released, it’s probably safe to say that Edmontonians will have a sleepless night that, for once, is something to look forward to (you know, one that isn’t filled with studying, working, or tossing and turning). For now, however, most of the pieces brought to fruition by Nuit Blanche Edmonton’s massive production team are to be revealed during the 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. event, but — spoiler alert — whatever these pieces are, they’re said to be pretty incredible, and will contribute to the theme for the evening: half-lit moon.

“The ‘half-lit moon’ is essentially the astronomical definition of dichotomy,” says Dyment. “The notion of the half-empty/half-full glass has always been of interest to me, and many of the works directly or indirectly address some of those concerns.” Expanding and simplifying the paradox, Franke adds that several of the installments will express the success of failure, and how failure is a journey in itself.
“There’s essentially no formula for how we want you to enjoy yourselves or discover Nuit Blanche Edmonton,” Franke says. “It’s about your path.”

With the city’s art scene continuously growing and evolving, it seems that Edmonton is ready for a contemporary art event of this scale. “Even if you’re skeptical of contemporary art (and who isn’t, at times?) I think there will be something to appreciate,” says Dyment. “I’ve been to ten Nuit Blanche events so far, and even the worst one was better than staying home.”

While staying at home certainly has its merits (read: sleep), the inaugural Nuit Blanche Edmonton exhibit promises to bring more attention to Edmonton’s art scene through a whole lot of spectacle and nighttime wandering.

Yes, event-goers might have to sacrifice some serious shut-eye in order to experience the entirety of the evening — but what’s that thing that people always say about sleep?

Oh yeah: you can do it when you’re dead.