Quill and Quire

Book culture

« Back to

Literary-minded installations to check out at Toronto’s Nuit Blanche

Literature vs. Traffic, Melbourne, 2015

Literature vs. Traffic, Melbourne, 2015

Nuit Blanche‚ Toronto’s massive annual overnight art show that draws an estimated one million-plus people each year‚ is taking place at locations across the city, starting at sundown on Oct. 1 until sunrise on Oct. 2. This year’s edition features pieces by artists from home and abroad‚ including a number that incorporate literature in some way.

Anonymous Spain-based collective Luzinterruptus brings Literature vs. Traffic‚ an installation evoking nostalgia for physical texts in a digital world‚ in which a street is taken over by artfully illuminated books “with traffic yielding to the modest power of the written word.” At the event’s end‚ audience members are free to claim the donated titles as they wish. The installation also has a further bookish tie: its inclusion in the festival’s And the Transformation Begins series‚ curated by Camille Hong Xin‚ which is directly inspired by the recurring theme of transformation in the works of Bohemian-Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rike.

Among the independent projects is Kelly Jazvac’s Browsing‚ which pays tribute to defunct Toronto art bookseller David Mirvish Books‚ where the London‚ Ontario, artist once worked. A collage of salvaged billboards will line the former store’s walls.

Ninety-nine books provided by libraries and bookstores across the world comprise John Shipman’s 100 Libraries. 99 Books‚ where the audience can engage with books chained to various reading tables‚ or even bring their own book to catalog.

Poetry features into Alex Sheriff’s We Are The City with poets “animating the ecological theme” of a video corridor with readings every hour. The installation uses spoken word and video to remind the audience of the delicate interaction between humans‚ animals‚ and the physical environment‚ and the respect owed to all living things.

Toronto’s Wabi-Sabi Collective also employs poetry in its piece‚ Basho Bingo‚ which presents a Haiku tree with leaves cut from books of poetry. Viewers can contribute their own pieces of writing to create “a collaborative work of memory” by the night’s end.

U.K. artist Robert Montgomery creates his own poetry “connecting words, feelings‚ and ideas of beauty” that will be illuminated in a number of light installations in Beauty vs. the World.

Korsi‚ from Iranian artist Maziar Ghaderi‚ sees performances artists ranging from poets and storytellers to musicians and palm readers‚ in an environment mimicking a traditional Iranian gathering place.

Bruce Nauman finds bookish inspiration for his video performance piece Slow Angle Walk (Beckett Walk)where the artist mimics a certain walk described as belonging to various characters in Samuel Beckett’s books.

A single line from Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything is expanded in Michelle Polak’s Leaving Still‚ a performance piece about “creating something from nothing‚” much as the universe was created in the Big Bang.