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Contemporary Art

Hot Art: Timely Viewing

Kelly Richardson's Twilight Avenger video installation

MARCH 4 TO AUGUST 1 Contemporary art is art that is literally “of its time,” intrinsically linked to the era in which it is produced and consumed. So it’s natural that the Art Gallery of Ontario would choose the concept of temporality to organize a display of its recent acquisitions. The exhibition Sculpture as Time brings together a broad selection of works created since the 1960s that, if not explicitly “on the clock”—like On Kawara’s I Got Up postcards, stamped with the hour at which the artist awoke on various mornings—nonetheless invite viewers to engage with time as a transformative phenomenon—will it be tranquility or frustration that prevails while you wait to glimpse the elusive deer in Kelly Richardson’s Twilight Avenger video? Enjoy these works in the moment; their effect will resonate long after.

Hot Art: Spring Project

Meghan Monahan's Pink Vastness, showing at The Artist Project Toronto

MARCH 4 TO 7 Fix your winter-weary gaze on some fresh artwork this month as The Artist Project Toronto returns for its third year. The contemporary art fair showcases the talents of more than 175 carefully selected Canadian and international artists. Visitors are invited to take in the large-scale sculptures and site-specific pieces comprising Installation Alley, listen to experts as part of the Art Chat series, vote for the best “Queen”-themed work of art, and generally peruse an eclectic collection of paintings, prints, photographs, glass works, digital art and more. Proceeds from the expo’s opening night preview benefit Sketch, a charitable organization that creates art-making opportunities for at-risk youth. Exhibition Place, Queen Elizabeth Building, $8 to $12 ($25 for opening night preview); call 416-960-3680 or visit here for tickets and more information.

October Hot Date: Scotiabank Nuit Blanche

D. A. Therrien's <em>Beautiful Light: four-Letter Word Machine</em> (photo by CGI: Dayvid LeMmon).

D. A. Therrien's Beautiful Light: four-Letter Word Machine (photo by CGI: Dayvid LeMmon).

OCTOBER 3 For one night, the city’s parks, alleyways and store fronts are transformed into exhibition spaces for contemporary art installations by more than 550 artists. Modeled after the Paris event, and dubbed “a free all-night contemporary art thing,” Scotiabank Nuit Blanche allows artistic revelers to carouse—for free!—from sunset to sundown at various museums and galleries, which are keeping their doors open straight on till morning. Beautiful Light: Four-Letter Word Machine by D.A. Therrien is among the highlights: four giant light sculptures suspended between the towers of City Hall project ever-changing four-letter words. Call 416-338-0338 for a list of participating venues.  —Jenelle DaSilva-Rupchand.

Start Planning Now: Scotiabank Nuit Blanche Returns!

A luchador climbs the steel cage in Shaun El C. Leonardo's <em>Battle Royal</em>, to be presented at this year's Scotiabank Nuit Blanche.

A luchador climbs the steel cage in Shaun El C. Leonardo's Battle Royal, to be presented at this year's Scotiabank Nuit Blanche (photo by Ricky Auyeung).

How would you prepare to stay awake from dusk until dawn? Would you train by gradually depriving yourself of sleep over a series of nights? Or you could try the opposite approach and seek a surplus of shut-eye leading up to the all-nighter, in the hope of stockpiling your 40 winks. (But how much is enough? 80 winks? 120?) And of course, there is the middle way: frequent doses of caffeine.

Whatever your preference, you’ll want to start planning now, as the countdown to Toronto’s fourth annual “all-night contemporary art thing,” Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, officially began today, with the announcement of its 2009 programming.

The event, beginning on the evening of October 3 and continuing through to the next morning, unites Torontonians (and visitors—last year, more than 100,000 people travelled to the city specifically for Nuit Blanche) in a celebration of creativity. Three “zones”—the areas in and around City Hall and Yonge-Dundas Square, the Financial District, and Liberty Village—play host to 46 diverse, curated installations that not only offer artistic expression through such contemporary media as sound, video, light and performance, but also seek to incorporate site-specificity and, in some cases, viewer interaction as part of the creative experience.

Among the projects Where Toronto can’t wait to see:

  • Geoffrey Farmer’s The Blinking Eyes of Everything, which is said to induce hallucinatory visions through the use of stroboscopic “dream” machines;
  • Battle Royal, a performance piece by Shaun El C. Leonardo employing a steel cage, 20 blindfolded wrestlers and a “fight to the end”;
  • D. A. Therrien’s Beautiful Lights: Four Letter Word Machine, whereby four gigantic light sculptures flash “codes, DNA sequences and elemental words” from between City Hall’s two towers; and,
  • The financial-forces metaphor Wild Ride, organized by Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan—two midway rides set up in the middle of Bay Street physically manifest the ups and downs of the free market. Bonus points for hubristic synergy: the rides are staffed by recently downsized businesspeople.

This year’s Nuit Blanche promises to be more accessible than ever before, with the TTC providing all-night service along the downtown sections of the Bloor-Danforth and Yonge/University/Spadina subway lines. Road closures in key areas (such as a large portion of Bay Street, between Gerrard and Front streets) are also a boon to bipedal art lovers, and the fact that the individual projects have been placed closer together means that you can see much more during however many hours you choose to spend looking at this city in a whole new (night) light.