Shine on Harvest Moon

Nuit Blanche overnight was Toronto at its best: mild temperatures, the Harvest Moon shining down, and strangers talking to each other about the 150 projects by 500 artists.

We started at lululemon in Yorkville where a DJ spun music for passersby who danced and admired an abstract work about the natural world by local artist Samuel Crowther. Next was Jeng Yi, a Japanese percussion group, at the Church of the Redeemer. The music was based on twelve animals, such as the rabbit, boar, and ox, represented on banners. In order to make the “playing of the animals” more difficult, they changed the order of the banners just before the performance began. That way, no one could presume they were taking the easy road and following some prearranged pattern.

On the sidewalk outside the church was one of those serendipitous moments that always adds a frisson to Nuit Blanche. Ten women wearing eye masks stood in a circle and sang an a cappella version of (maybe) some Renaissance madrigal. We then spent less than three minutes peering into the new Louis Vuitton store next door, admiring the designs and architecture. During that brief time, the choral group evaporated. No idea who they were, what they sang, or where they went.

The Gardiner Museum featured The Robotic Chair by Max Dean. The otherwise normal-looking wooden chair collapses with a crashing noise, its constituent parts spread everywhere. Then, slowly and inexplicably, it rebuilds itself and stands erect again. Across the street at the Royal Ontario Museum were 32 pen and ink drawings by German artist Jorinde Voight. Her swooping lines represented in two dimensions Beethoven’s 32 sonatas played by Stewart Goodyear in a single day and recorded at Luminato.

Pianos dominated the exhibits at Hart House where a woman banged on the wire innards and hammered the keys of a grand piano. While my description may not sound appealing, after a few minutes, there was a certain musicality. Outside in the courtyard was Gordon Monahan’s A Piano Talking to Itself. In this sound art installation six piano wires are strung tightly from a point about seventy feet away and run through the sound board of an old upright piano. Somehow sounds travel down the wire and can be heard emanating from the piano as if it were a speaker. As Sam Goldwyn used to say, “I’ve now told you more than I know.”

The final event, before I flagged out, was in the bar area of Koerner Hall in The Royal Conservatory of Music. We’d seen the shadows of people and small cutouts on the covered windows as we ambled along Philosopher’s Walk. This time the explanation was simpler. Construction paper was available so anyone could create art by tearing the paper or cutting it with scissors and then pinning up the results. We were all artists. It was a fitting ending to a fine night.

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