Nuit Blanche By the Book

This year, October 1 marks the night Nuit Blanche descends upon Toronto. A late-night exploration of installation and performance art dispersed across the city, this festival has hosted some absolutely mesmerizing pieces in the past few years that have been worth braving the large crowds and long queues to experience.

To the delight of my bibliophilic heart, there are a number of works on the 2016 lineup centred on books and storytelling. While I probably won’t be able to see them all myself, I’ve compiled some of them here in case other readers are keen to fill their white night with book art.

nb-85_05#85: 100 Libraries. 99 Books (St. Matthew’s United Church, 729 St. Clair Avenue West)

Excerpt from website: Visit 100 libraries and explore 99 books secured by chains. Bring your own book to catalog and then borrow it back. Make a mini-book. Post your nomination of a library and book special to you.

Library love with a side of DIY bookmaking? Yes, please. Each chained book in this work is representative of a different Canadian library or bookstore, and I’m curious to see which get paired together. I’ll make sure I have a book in my purse so I have one to check in to the catalogue and “borrow” again, but which one?

nb-69_02#69: Browsing (David Mirvish Books, 596 Markham Street)

Excerpt from website: Bringing the scale of outdoor signage indoors, [Kelly] Jazvac has wrapped and animated the inside of the former David Mirvish Books with a massive collage of salvaged billboards.

DMB has been operating solely online since 2009, so this is the perfect time to revisit the physical space where one of Toronto’s best art bookstores once sat. This exhibit’s exploration of cultural spaces bears greater significance the more one knows about the continued cultural legacy of the Mirvish family in this city.

nb-16_02#16: Literature vs. Traffic (Old City Hall, 60 Queen Street West)

Excerpt from website: Created with the help of volunteers, this interactive light installation will transform a street that is normally allocated for vehicles into a river of books overflowing in a symbolic gesture. The donated books will become the conqueror of public space with traffic yielding to the modest power of the written words.

I love the idea of physical books as illuminating, accumulated blockades that arrest the mechanical grind of city living. All the better to make time for reading and reflection. Old City Hall is the perfect spot to disrupt traffic and this will also mean the number of viewers jostling for a look will be large too, but I’ll definitely be making a visit.

nb-47_02#47: Stories We Tell (Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay West)

Excerpt from website: Walk from exhibition to exhibition and read your way through the visually constructed images of drawings, comics, illustrations, ceramics and photography.

To someone who thinks about how narratives are structured and handled in text, seeing how other mediums are used to convey stories can be fascinating and invigorating. If you’re curious to see these exhibits but worried you may not get down to the waterfront, they’re already open to the public during Harbourfront Centre’s regular hours.

nb-60_02#60: Basho Bingo (Artscape Youngplace, 180 Shaw Street)

Excerpt from website: A playful immersion in the wabi-sabi aesthetic and architecture of Renku, the Japanese-style collaborative linked verse from which modern Haiku evolved. Then add your own verse or wish to the branches of our Tanabata-style Haiku tree and overnight the leaves will multiply and become a collaborative work of memory by morning.

Speaking of different mediums, how about contributing your own verse to a style of Japanese poetry that relies on collaboration and response? Because of this poem’s unconventional form, you’ll also be participating in an aesthetic of impermanence and imperfection.

So, will you be checking out any of these exhibits? If you do, please let me know what you thought of them. Are there any other book-related works that you’re more excited about?

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