Monday, October 1, 2007

Nuit Blanche

I only saw a few hours worth of Nuit Blanche activities but the general consensus between the people I spoke with and the follow-up reports (in the papers, and on the blogs) is that the crowds were overwhelming and the work wasn't. Most agree, though, that there were a few strong stand-outs including Adad Hannah's video installation "Traces" in The Rex Hotel, Kristan Horton's "Crowd" at Queen's Park, "Non-Specific Threat", by Irish artist Willie Doherty, "White Line Light" by Carsten Nicolai & Olaf Bender at the Old Police Station and Ann Hamilton's "listening choir" performance at OCAD. Hamilton had been in discussion with Misha Glouberman about combining his noise choir with her listening choir, but it didn't work out in the end. His "Terrible Noises For Beautiful People" has also been singled out by a number of sites as a refreshingly intimate experience and escape from the big spectacle and cheap thrills of the rest of the evening. Glouberman hosted about twenty different twenty-minute sessions of his TNFBP workshop, a series of vocal improv experiments with groups of between 25 and 100 participants.

From 1am to 3am he took a much needed break and his School of Learning students performed Glouberman's version of "Cobra" by New York saxophonist and composer John Zorn. "Cobra" is a composition that turns 23 years old next week (Oct 9th) that functions like a loosely structured game. A series of cue cards with corresponding rules and strategies are held up by a prompter but there is no other notation and the number of players, instrumentation and length of the work is indeterminate. Glouberman's version is a cappella, and is aided by his own "Cobratron" device. The result sounds not unlike the legendary Toronto sound-poet group Four Horsemen (Steven McCaffery, Rafael Barreto-Rivera, Paul Dutton, and the late bpNichol).

This took place next door to Mercer Union, in a cavernous warehouse space we rented for the evening. Inside the gallery the Instant Coffee "Nooks" exhibition served as an ideal area for visitors to wait in between performances, plan their next route, relax on the platforms, or have a drink with friends. (Thanks to our beer sponsor, Grolsch).

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