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night of the living hipsters


one of the reasons i choose to live in cities rather than the country is because of the easy access to art. being creastively inclined myself, i enjoy the feeling of proximity to other creative folk, even though i don't always understandwhat it is they're trying to do. so i was pretty excited (as both an art fan and a night owl) last night to partake in toronto's first nuit blanche, an all night celebration of contemporary art, with installations spread over three zones of the city.

as with the most things, the first time you try something is going to be a little awkward. i hadn't done a lot of planning beforehand and figured i would want to stop in at a couple of events, rather than spending an entire night looking at the art. in fact, there were so many events that i realised the second i got my hands on a program that seeing everything i wanted was going to be an impossible proposition. because i had been under the impression that i wouldn't be spending the night, my choice of attire was not entirely appropriate for the damp weather. my sweater had a hood to protect me when the rain became heavy-ish, but it did not take me long to determine that there is nothing attractive about a woman who smells like a wet sheep.

aside from my own sartorial choices, there were a few problems with enjoying the evening. the venues were incapable of holding the overflow crowds of downtown hipsters in skinny jeans and there were crowds well into the middle of the night. this is going to be an issue wherever you are, but it was particularly acute because the crowds really seemed to be lacking in manners. bringing a line of people to a dead halt so that you can take pictures or arrange to meet your friends via cell phone is not cool. responding to stoppages in said lines by pushing the person in front of you is likewise not cool. snack vendors had only pure junk- bags of cheetos and chocolate bars. given the nature of the event, it would have made more sense to recruit folks from local restaurants with healthy fare and... for the love of god... MORE OF THEM, especially more of them who serve coffee. ah well, it's toronto, there's always street meat (assuming that you wanted to stand in the line).

but it's really hard to take issue with the event overall. the art was not only engaging, but fun. there were even some crucial opportunities (particularly if, like me, you weren't smart enough to take a nap earlier) to rest, like watching a series of dada and surrealist-influenced films at the cinematheque ontario, or enjoying the shadow magic of finnbogi petursson's hypnotic light, water and sound piece sphere at the prefix institute of contemporary art (part of the 401 richmond gallery complex). there was so much to see and do that it was intimidating. in fact, i eventually had to admit defeat and started home at about three-thirty, having made it as far west as the tent ancampment (thom soloski's confinement of the intellect) at trinity bellwoods park.

i woke up this morning with sore feet and a sense of exhiliration. already, i'm thinking of the things i'll do better next year: i'll wear the most comfortable shoes i own, i'll take a nap, i'll check the weather, i'll have a plan to see everything that i want made up in advance... or maybe i'll just do exactly what i did this year and see what happens. if there's one thing that contemporary art teaches you, it's that there are no rules.

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