At Saskatoon’s premiere of the world-wide art festival Nuit Blanche — which took place on Sept. 27 along 20th Street — art came out when the sun went down.
This free nighttime event, a part of Saskatoon’s celebration of Saskatchewan Culture Days, was aimed at promoting contemporary art and culture in different varieties. Sound, image, light installations and human performances were displayed along the street and in different public buildings to pique the audience and captivate them.
Saskatoon adopted the event of Nuit Blanche from other cities like Paris, Madrid, Amsterdam, Kyoto, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. During the night, the street itself turned into an art gallery and a stage where the audience could freely watch, listen and even take part in art installations, add their own touch to paintings, or place their faces in the holes of Evgenia Mikhaylova and Irene Francis Elliot’s piece “MOON.”
The diversity of the artistic compositions presented at Nuit Blanche were the true richness of the event. Some performances themselves were mixes of different kinds of art, like “The Art of Movement” — created by the company Go Time, whose artists originate from Quebec and Ontario.
The 45-minute show was a mixture of free running, trial biking and fire spinning. The artists executed impressive and sometimes risky figures that represented human motion and the flow of the human body.
By simply moving along the street, spectators could also experience diversity and alliance of arts. For example — while watching Julie Oh’s colourful installation “Instant Rainbow,” the music of BackFlash Magazine’s “Sound Pollution” could be heard coming from the catwalk above PAVED Arts and AKA Gallery. Inside these two galleries, which are linked by the same entrance, viewers could enjoy a diverse artistic experience including Alexa Hainsworth’s “Archaea” — which consisted of a series of red sequin hand-sewn bikini top triangles suspended and linked together with threads like a giant spider web — and Justin Pfefferle’s work “Is There Magic in Cinema?” Pfefferle’s piece showed the technical tricks of movie making in a short video within an independent installation.
The art installations and performances presented that night were the work of artists coming from all over Canada. This event was also an excellent way to promote the works of local artists who got their art degrees from the University of Saskatchewan or who are involved in the promotion of the arts in Saskatchewan like Hainsworth, Oh and Terry Billings.
Evie Ruddy — who leads workshops about digital storytelling across Saskatchewan — presented “The Power of Digital Storytelling” at the Roxy Theatre, where she showed some of the works her students created during these workshops.
Blacksmith Jim Gerlinsky performed in front of a captivated audience the creation of the sculpture “Eden Sprouts”, sharing with the audience the art of smithing. The uniqueness of this piece was not in the final product but in the audience’s opportunity to see the creation of a piece of art from the beginning to the end. Watching every step from the stoking of the fire to the sculpting of the red hot metal, the public could learn the technique of blacksmithing — a form of art that has since become a rarity.
Saskatoon’s Nuit Blanche was a successful event which gathered a lot of artists who shared their works with a crowded and enthusiastic audience. The evening festival was a chance for people to discover new artists and to learn about different forms of art. Hopefully the event will grow and flourish even more in its second year.