Nuit Blanche Edmonton lit up the city last weekend, marking the first in (hopefully) a long line of artistic events to take over the downtown core. Featuring over 30 exhibits, including some from Yoko Ono as well as local artists, the festival brought a charge of artistic energy into the city. The staggering amount of contemporary art that flooded the streets was almost intruding, considering that downtown has often been viewed as a bleak, lacklustre locale. That being said, once I adjusted, it was a welcoming change of pace. The event lasted till 4 a.m., and it was both bizarre and exiting to see downtown Edmonton so full of vigor into the night.
The main attraction of the event was Yoko Ono’s “Wish Trees,” which were part of her continuous Imagine Peace installation. The trees occupied almost all of Churchill Square and were decorated top to bottom with pieces of paper that sported wishes from the Edmonton public. The intention of this installation is that eventually all of these wishes would be placed at the base of a tower in Iceland that shoots beams of light into the sky. No, I’m not making that up. Yoko just does things like that. This installation was, without a doubt, the most popular, with long lines of people eagerly waiting to receive their parchment. [pullquote] The wishes on the trees were a mix of inspiring, simple and kind of tragic. [/pullquote] A few stuck out, such as one that read, “I wish Brandon would love me more” and another that read, “I wish for world peace, and a pony.” Regardless of the mixed desires of Edmontonians, the installation did what I’m assuming good art should do — inspire emotion.
Of course, the event wasn’t just wish-fulfilling vegetation. Numerous artistic installations were scattered all over downtown, some of which were more interactive than others. I specifically remember turning down an alley by Rice Howard Way and seeing what appeared to be a makeshift white cage surrounded by tattered white paper covered in paint. This mosaic was not left unattended. About a dozen people, all acting like children, were in white painters’ overalls and covered head to toe in splattered paint. They roam