Sunday, October 3, 2010

Nuit Blanche 2010: I don't know art, but I know what I don't like.

Before I begin, I would like to say that I am by no means "an expert" on art. My interactions with Nuit Blanche are fairly casual. I don't stay up all night... I don't plan a route in advance... But for better or for worse, I have been caught up in the annual hype surrounding Nuit Blanche for the past one or two years. As a casual fan of the event, I agree with Celestialspeedster that this year's offerings were a little lackluster.

Royal Pinguo and I stayed near the Distillery District this year, since we were already in the area during the afternoon/evening for a friend's birthday party. We headed out to see Nuit Blanche around 11:30. One compliant of mine was lack of good lighting. This is a night time event, and if you want your art to be appreciated, it has to be seen. I saw an elephant sculpture dimly lit by a large flashlight being powered by almost dead batteries.

Next we found a post-apocalyptic campsite that was dimly lit and populated with actors portraying life in the grim future. I was on-board with the theme they were going for, but it was a little ruined by the fact that the camp was overrun with other Nuit Blanche visitors and surrounded by the coffee shops and bars of the Distillery District that were still open for business.

We came across the clay slab exhibit which had messages written on it that originated from electronic text messages. This was a good concept, but visitors can only see a slab of clay cluttered with graffiti-like markings and other scribbles that people added by hand. It was essentially a heavily defaced piece of clay. Interesting concept, but not the most visually enticing exhibit.

There were some good exhibits. The most obvious one to me was The Hand of God painting recreated using many Rubik's Cubes. It's obviously art to an art-novice like me because it takes a recognized masterpiece and recreates it using a different medium. It's also effective because an art-novice like like can understand the difficulty in creating the piece.

Another exhibit that I found visually-stimulating and meaningful was statue on the water that was surrounded by flames. The accompanying projection made it obvious that the sculpture was a statement about lack of human rights in parts of the world.

I recognize that Nuit Blanche is not an easy event to organize. As an event, it tries to cast a wide net. In an effort to cater to everyone, you cater to no one. How do you create an event that will entice the artistically ignorant (a group which I proclaim membership to), engage the artistically-educated, and entertain the rambling drunk who is looking for an all-night party? You can't, because it's impossible. At some point, I think Nuit Blanche has to make a decision about what it wants to be. I am on board if Nuit Blanche wants to do giant exhibits with little artistic meaning. I am also on board if they do elaborate complex exhibits that not everyone will understand. I'm not on board if they do simple exhibits that are poorly executed in concept and/or implementation... and that's what I saw a lot of this year.

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