The art of Nuit Blanche
UN playing the CCA’s Shaughnessy House, as part of Nuit Blanche 2012. Photo by Minelly Kamemura.
Nuit Blanche: the city’s system for tricking us into leaving our warm, comfy houses to party outdoors one last time before rising temperatures actually make that a tempting option. Montreal’s cultural institutions all open their doors for free, and they stay open late enough to ensure you’ll have beer goggles on while you check them out. A long history of one-upmanship between them also makes for some of the most fun, innovative performances, activities and shows on offer all year.
In fact, there’s so much to see and do at Nuit Blanche that it can be a bit overwhelming, and there’s nothing worse than hearing about all the great stuff you missed out on the next day. Also, a warning for the uninitiated: the major galleries tend to draw huge crowds, which can mean long line-ups and showrooms so crowded you can barely see what’s on display.
So, here’s a few tips on the fine art of doing it up at this year’s 10th anniversary Nuit Blanche, including highlights from the ABC of big Nuit Blanche exhibits and events: Art Souterrain, Belgo and CCA.
The city’s mall-like underbelly is transformed into a massive gallery for contemporary art installations, and checking them out is a great way to stay warm at one of the chilliest festivals in town. The works are distributed through 16 “zones,” including the metro and various city complexes’ undergrounds. With 133 featured artists, it’s a lot to take in, but you can use their calendar to orient yourself.
The Art Souterrain exhibits will be on display through March 17, and they have lots of special activities and events lined up over the next few weeks. Don’t miss checking out this year’s invited city, Barcelona, which is exhibiting 10 up-and-coming artists in the spaces below Complexe Desjardins.
For many, Nuit Blanche is the only time they pass through the Belgo Building all year, but they make up for it by checking out exhibits at every gallery on-site in one fell swoop. Since pretty much everyone has stuff planned, your best bet is just to wander through the hallways from gallery to gallery — in all likelihood bumping into EVERY SINGLE PERSON YOU HAVE EVER MET, EVER en route — but of course there are a few highlights that merit making sure you stop in.
Hours vary slightly, but most of the spaces start things up between 6 and 8 p.m., and almost all are open through 3 p.m. All events listed are free. The Belgo is located at 372 Ste-Catherine W.
Take a fake-cation at Coconut Beach Drive, where Galerie Les Territoires (#527) has dedicated their large photo studio to scenic vacation backdrops. Have your picture taken wearing a Hawaiian print mumu and drinking a Mai Tai, and the images will be displayed on the walls as an exhibit/travelogue. At Studio 303 (#303), Edgy Women presents All Nuit Long, with an interactive photo booth and screenings of short films exploring stereotypes about athletics, sport and gender.
Centre Skol (#314) offers two events for Nuit Blanche. They welcome a new exhibit in the large room, Clément de Gaulejac’s Motifs raisonnables, a collection of protest posters produced by the artist in support of Quebec student protests. In the gallery’s small room, Wednesday Lupypicw’s WHY DAD MXII explores the relationship between an artist and her father, with performances by the artist in the evening. The gallery will also be hosting an earlier vernissage/opening reception this afternoon at 2:30 p.m.
Rats 9 (#530) have big surprises up their sleeves, but you’ll have to stop by in person to find out what. Finally, if you’ve yet to check out Philippe Blanchard’s amazing New Troglodytesexhibit at Arprim (#426) yet, this is your chance to do so, and catch World Provider, Drainolith and Hobo Cubes in the process.
Canadian Centre for Architecture
The Canadian Centre for Architecture has allied itself with some local cultural powerhouses to provide a one-stop nuit blanche party shop, with 10 literary, artistic and music events and activities planned, all free.
During the day, there will be a family-friendly workshop called “Q for Quartier.” Participants are invited to share anecdotes about places in Montreal, which will then be compiled into books to create a mini-library. 3-10 p.m.
In the evening, the CCA offers guided tours of the gallery, colloquiums with ABC:MTL contributors, free snow taffy, a drunk drawing sesh, a light show projection by Solar Year, karaoke hosted by Raf Katigbak and Lisa Ivan Icky and great music presented in collaboration with Pop Montreal (see Lorraine Carpenter’s round-up of Nuit Blanche music events for more info).
In collaboration with Maisonneuve magazine, “Montreal, City of Letters” presents readings by some of the local literary scene’s brightest lights, including Saleema Nawaz, Trevor Ferguson, Guillaume Morissette, Sarah Berthiaume and Sean Michaels. Another highlight is “Silent Montreal,” in the CCA’s rotunda, where participants are provided with headphones to dance together, silently, with electronic music compiled by Gambletron and Jen Reimer. Evening events run from 7 or 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., CCA (1920 Baile), see the full timetable for details
A few other smart bets…
At I’m Going to Count to Ten…, artist Anna Jane McIntyre has transformed the outdoor terrace of Atelier Graff, installing prints of a lush rainforest populated by improbably tropical animals, all made fluorescent with black light. Atelier Graff (963 Rachel E.), 10 p.m.-3 a.m.
Two of the big outdoor art/street art collectives in town are working outside of their usual media at Nuit Blanche events. American Apparel has teamed up with En Masse, and they’ll be selling custom-designed Nuit Blanche T-shirts in-store, with drinks and DJs. 1392 Ste-Catherine, 8-11 p.m. Optic presents a multi-media audiovisual collaboration between the artists of Massivart and VJ Vidéo Girl, as well as an exhibit of digital graphic design artists. W Hotel (901 Square Victoria), 9 p.m.-12 a.m.
Laïka presents La Movida Porteña, a multimedia evening of art and entertainment around the (welcome) theme of the hot nights of Buenos Aires, with video projections by TIND, art exhibits by Mathieu Bories and Andreea Vrabie and music from Cristobal Urbina. (4040 St-Laurent), 9 p.m.-3 a.m.
Check the official Nuit Blanche guide for access to the night’s programming in full, and be sure to stay tuned to Cult MTL as we report back with photo galleries of the night’s festivities and its attendees. ■