Nuit Blanche, or "White Night,"is an all-night arts festival that occurs once a year. The first Nuit Blanche occurred in St. Petersburg, but they are now held everywhere including many different cities including Barcelona, New York, and Toronto. Paris' Nuit Blanche was early last month. The streets were absolutely crawling with people from 7pm to 7am the next day. It was incredible--I've never before seen so many different people of all ages roaming about for so long.
I visited three different displays that night, although there were at least hundreds of different exhibitions, film screenings, street art displays, and performances. I first stopped by a piece at the Carreau du Temple--Ceinture by artist Huang Yong Ping. All of Huang's work explores the differences between and misconceptions about oriental and occidental culture. Ceinture was a reprise of an earlier work from 1993 (Théâtre du Monde et Pont) and consisted of an enormous glass case that circled the center of the room and was filled with living bugs and reptiles. The creatures come from all corners of the world and the piece conceptually explores the "international" interactions.
In short, it was awesome. Different compartments held giant tarantulas, bright green lizards, and tons of cockroaches, snakes, crickets, and other bugs that I couldn't even identify. On all sides of the piece, people were exclaiming with a mix of fascination and disgust.
|This giant millipede was trying to crawl up the surface but wasn't actually moving because the glass was too slippery, which meant that even though it wasn't going anywhere, its legs were still creepily rippling up and down.|
Outside in a park right near the Carreau du Temple was an installation by Sylvia Schildge titled Le Temps Renversé. Inspired by her childhood, the installation consisted of a tree that had been decorated with photographs of close-ups of body parts of dancers. A string of white lights hung next to the photos, briefly illuminating each as they turned on and off. The result was both eerie and elegant.
Finally I stopped by Place de la République to experience Fujiko Nakaya's Fog Square. Nakaya's specially designed fog machines enveloped the entire area with fog. She has also previously created mist-filled places in Canberra, Australia, and San Francisco.
At the end of the night, my friends and I joined a crowd of thousands on one of the many bridges across the Seine River to watch midnight fireworks which, in typical French fashion, were late.