Canadian Art

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Nuit Blanche: The Top 10 to Tour

Various locations, Toronto Oct 3 2009
Project Blinkenlights' interactive window installation at Toronto’s city hall was one of the main attractions of Nuit Blanche 2008  /  photo courtesy of City of Toronto Project Blinkenlights' interactive window installation at Toronto’s city hall was one of the main attractions of Nuit Blanche 2008 / photo courtesy of City of Toronto

Project Blinkenlights' interactive window installation at Toronto’s city hall was one of the main attractions of Nuit Blanche 2008 / photo courtesy of City of Toronto

Originally designed as a one-off festival for fall 2006, Nuit Blanche has grown rapidly into Toronto’s most popular annual art event. With 130 projects by 500 artists on the official slate this year, and a million viewers expected to show, there’s always plenty to see at NB. In fact, there’s almost too much to view—which is why we've rounded up the top 10 must-sees for contemporary art aficionados.

1. Monopoly With Real Money by Iain Baxter& at the Exchange Tower, 130 King St W
It was the recession of 1973 when critically minded artist Iain Baxter& first decided to inject some performative satire into the morose social mood by playing Monopoly with real money. At Nuit Blanche, he’ll reprise this eerily appropriate action in the same building that houses real-life high-stakes wheeling and dealing—the Toronto Stock Exchange.

2. Wild Ride by Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan at Bay and King Streets
Winnipeg’s Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan have a gift for addressing difficult issues through techniques of humour and play. For Nuit Blanche, they offer a tongue-in-cheek take on stock-market ups and downs with two midway rides located in the darkened streets of Toronto’s hard-hit financial district. The kicker? They’ll be staffed by recently downsized businesspeople.

3. Rabbit Balloon by Jeff Koons at the Eaton Centre
Whether you love or hate Jeff Koons, one thing’s for sure—you’re still going to want to see his iconic rabbit sculpture firsthand when it comes to Toronto. Hung in the eye-candy-filled retail environs of the Eaton Centre, it’s even possible that Koons’ artwork could face tight competition from its shiny, sparkling mall displays. (Alternatively, it could be shamed by Michael Snow’s humble Canada geese.) But you won’t know unless you go.

4. Battle Royal by Shaun El C. Leonardo at the Toronto Coach Terminal, 610 Bay
Frieze, Artforum and ArtNEWS are just a few of the outlets that have taken note of New Yorker Shaun El C. Leonardo in the past few years. Marrying muscular athleticism with high-art concept, Leonardo is one of the more unique artists working today: recently, he’s re-enacted high-school football drills and Mexican wrestling matches. This performance promises a 20-man hand-to-hand battle, with only one person left standing. And you thought the Venice Biennale was competitive…

5. Skry-Pod by Fastwürms at the Sheraton Centre Hotel
As lovers of contemporary Canadian art know well, the middle-aged witch-loving duo of Fastwürms reliably creates some of the most wacky and wonderful artworks in the nation. Here, they promise a psychically provocative divination chamber complete with crystal readings and tarot cards. Almost guaranteed to be a fun and fanciful stop-by.

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This article was first published online on October 1, 2009.

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