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.
6. The Blinking Eyes of Everything by Geoffrey Farmer at Church of the Holy Trinity
Just as Geoffrey Farmer’s gallery installations are winning ever-wider exhibition and acclaim, his Toronto fans get a rare chance to see the artist’s take on a non-white-cube environment—namely, a 17th-century Anglican church. With an organ soundtrack and trippy, hypnotic lighting, The Blinking Eyes of Everything promises a fresh iteration of Farmer’s eerie situational oeuvre.
7. Bicitycle by Kyohei Sakaguchi at Lamport Stadium Parking Lot
Japanese artist Kyohei Sakaguchi has won praise for his photographic documentation of homeless architectures in Tokyo, examples of which were exhibited at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2006 and at Plug In ICA in 2008. Now, taking the project to the next level, Sakaguchi will assemble a mobile, pedal-powered city out of Toronto’s scraps and secondhand discards.
8. Gone Indian by Rebecca Belmore throughout the financial district
Past Canadian Venice rep Rebecca Belmore won many new fans at 2006’s Nuit Blanche with her compelling ice-sculpture tribute to Neil Stonechild. This year, Belmore shines a light in a similar direction, reclaiming the financial district for First Nations people through drumming, performance and spontaneous vocals.
9. No by Santiago Sierra at Temperance and Bay Streets
Spain’s Santiago Sierra is one of the world’s most brutal and cold-eyed artists, with works that ably expose the sickening underbelly of everyday life—the buying and selling of human bodies and souls. Few advance details of his Nuit Blanche work are available, but it will likely be intelligently shocking—a brilliant foil to festival-fuelled fun.
10. Randy & Berenicci at 80 Lynn Williams Street
The performance works of Randy Gledhill and Berenicci Hershorn were well known across Canada in the 1970s and 80s. For Nuit Blanche 2009, they get a surprise return to the spotlight with a video retrospective that promises to win them awareness in a new generation.