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Vibrancy in the dull of winter

by Maggie Hope March 6, 2018
Vibrancy in the dull of winter

The 15th edition of Nuit Blanche saw artistic expression materialize across media

Although it’s unclear where the concept of all-night art festivals originated, Paris is credited with creating “Nuit Blanche” in the early 2000s. Other European cities hosted these types of festivals throughout the 90s, but the first night of Nuit Blanche was established in France and has since spread to other cities around the world.

The program for this year’s edition of Montreal’s Nuit Blanche was divided into six categories based on the type of event. Whether you were looking for “A Night of Stories” or “A Night on the Dancefloor,” you were guaranteed to find something you’d enjoy. With over 200 events and activities, from poetry readings and interactive installations to DJ and comedy performances, the festival promised a night of unabashed creativity.

Dozens of art-and-music lovers moved and grooved to upbeat house music by local DJs. Surrounded by flashing lights, deep bass and an aura of pulsating energy, many spectators danced until well after 3 a.m. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

A feeling of collective celebration permeated the city—even underground. The metro was open all night, encouraging people to explore and increase their chances of finding hidden gems—of which there were plenty. The metro also served as a performance venue at certain times throughout the night. Berri-UQAM hosted swing and salsa performances, and the St-Laurent station was the spot for local DJs to perform improvised scratch sessions.

Spectators gathered around pop-up fire pits in Esplanade de la Places des Arts to warm their chilled hands, recommend exhibits to newfound friends, roast delicious sausages and, of course, have obligatory photo-ops. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

Photo by Alex Hutchins.

The hub of the entire event was, of course, the Quartier des Spectacles, which hosted everything from free concerts to competitive games inspired by the Olympics. Place des Festivals transformed into a lively and crowded strip as people jumped from one activity to the next. Portraits of famous musicians illuminated an entire wall of the Maison du Festival Rio Tinto Alcan building, and a huge zipline stretched over the expanse of the crowd.

Shattered glass illuminated with hues of green and yellow make up one of the exhibits at Eastern Bloc. Decorated with industrial-style string lights, an outdoor terrasse allowed spectators to chat with art-loving friends and strangers alike. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

Joffré Roy-Beauregard (above) is one of the seven artists featured in the (Dis)CONNECT exhibition. Other interactive multimedia installments invited spectators to listen to and watch the audio-visual representations of varying human emotions, such as fear and anxiety. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

For festival-goers who wanted a more relaxed experience, galleries all over the city kept their doors open well into the night. The Art Matters Festival, for example, took Nuit Blanche as the opportunity to open this year’s edition of student-run exhibitions. Espace POP hosted the festival’s opening night, with the artworks of its first exhibition, (Dis)CONNECT, on display. Eastern Bloc, a new media production and gallery space, collaborated with the non-profit organization Never Apart to showcase the talents of Latin-American artists in two parts. The night began with multimedia installations, and concluded with performances by local DJs, which saw visitors dropping by to warm up and shake off their fatigue.

Photo by Alex Hutchins.

Check out our video coverage of the event below.

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