Last night we attended the 2nd annual Nocturne event. Every gallery in the downtown core of Halifax from SMU’s art gallery to MSVU was open from 6 until 12 pm with special independent projects in-between. From live music and video projections to tea lights under traffic cones and sheets replacing buildings Nocturne was a fantastic city-wide show of traditional and conceptual art. Entirely free, there was dancing and food and wine in most of the galleries. Several classmates from FFF modeled their fabric-less dresses in the mannequin windows near Anna Leonowens Gallery under the fashion studio.
I didn’t want to visit the galleries as much as seeing the independent projects, but we ended up going through a good portion of the main events downtown in the two hours we spent at Nocturne.
My favorite piece was a reconstruction of an old Granville street store front – on fabric. The building was torn down a few years ago all that remains is gravel parking and three walls from surrounding buildings. The fabric was thin enough to see the image from both sides. When you walked into the space, you were immediately sheltered from the wind – the three cement walls became sound proof barriers that inhibited ambient noise. Lit from beneath the sheet became a ghostly reminder of the structure that used to stand. Suitcases painted white represented the different stores that had occupied 1790 Granville during its ‘lifetime’. The air was crisp and cool, and soft music played – the mood was so peaceful and memorable. Give me a hot latte and I could have stayed there all night!
My second favorite was a video projection study of tides in the Bay of Fundy. It was set up to play in empty store fronts on both sides of Barrington St. that were directly opposite each other. There was a loud accompanying audio recording of the waves that echoed off the surrounding buildings. It was intense and extremely enjoyable to watch nature displayed in the heart of a city.
Back down in the Granville St. parkade there was an exploration of human interaction with buildings constructed for cars. Going up the first stairwell, there was audio recordings from when the parkade is in use. At the top, overlooking the city there were traffic cones with tea lights under them for visual effect. Exiting the parkade there was an overwhelming amount of generic air fresheners.
On the side of the Aliant building on the corner of Barrington and Spring Garden Road there were mics that picked up surrounding noise and translated them into drawings. Me and Nate stood in front of the mic and talked about taking pictures, knitting and people getting run over by a bus. Whatever the mics picked up was transmitted over loudspeakers for the whole corner to hear. Here is the final ‘piece’. She erased and re-started every ten to fifteen minutes.
Nocturne headquarters – where it all began 🙂
This location was for a performer chanting lines from writings by Ian Rankin, while tied to a tree. But before you found her there was a staircase completely lit up on the corner of Barrington and George, which was far more interesting.
On the way home we stopped at the Hydrostone Market to see and hear “Scenes May Contain Violins” set up in the window of Lady Luck with a projection screen of the gallery work on the monument to the Halifax Explosion.