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Annual Nocturne event builds on Halifax region’s construction boom

Burnwater:Arrival is a performance installation by Mocean Dance and Hear Here Productions that explores the connections between place, memory and the natural world. This installation is part of Nocturne on Saturday night at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. - Michelle Doucette
Burnwater: Arrival, a performance installation by Mocean Dance and Hear Here Productions, was a popular piece at a previous edition of Nocturne. The festival lights up Halifax and Dartmouth again Saturday night. - Michelle Doucette

The Nocturne theme this year is Scaffold. Even though it was late, the curator has accepted an unsolicited entry for the evening art show in the form of the downed Halifax crane.

“We did indeed include it as a piece,” Halifax artist and arts administrator Tori Fleming said during an interview.

The collapsed construction equipment will be in the official guide for Saturday’s temporary contemporary art show, said Fleming. 

“I have so much empathy for the people who have been displaced from their apartments and the business owners, I feel really bad about that, but in some ways it is truly the mascot of this festival because it is the most absurd thing I have ever seen.

“This very sturdy-looking crane in the sky just looks like a crumpled piece of paper. I know that I shouldn’t find it hysterical but every single time I walk down Spring Garden I actually laugh out loud.

“And the timing of that being there during the Scaffold year of Nocturne is hilarious to me.”

More seriously, it takes a while to plan Nocturne, the annual evening of art presented throughout the downtowns of Halifax and Dartmouth. 

This year’s theme, announced in April, is meant to highlight a city in transition. Given the amount of construction (and inadvertent destruction) going on in the region, it seems apt.

“A lot of the things that we think are really, really permanent, they’re just not,” Fleming said.

“It seems like really the perfect metaphor for that.”

Scaffold grew out of an assignment given to Fleming by a curatorial mentor in Berlin.

“I went out with this Polaroid camera and I was walking around for weeks, and every time I felt inconvenienced I would take a photo and I sent them all to her.

“She had no idea what Halifax was like and she said to me, ‘There’s not a single photo of your city that doesn’t have a crane or scaffolding in it.’

“I think we are in a particular moment where a lot of things feel sort of half-built or half-developed, and there’s just so much anxiety in that.

“A lot of these things are really scary when you think of them but, on the other hand, shouldn’t those be the really exciting times, too? If we’re just going to throw it all out and start again, it should be in some ways the most optimistic time.”

The 12th annual edition of Nocturne: Art at Night already has put up a piece for viewing. A mural by Montreal artist Caroline Monnet is on the side of Scotia Square facing Barrington Street. Fleming said it’s viewable from the street and in the food court.

“I love it, and when she agreed to let us show it for Nocturne I just thought, ‘What a waste to put this up for six hours.’ I needed it to be up for longer, so it is up for the entire month of October.”

Fleming is director of programming at the Centre for Art Tapes, a media arts-based artist-run centre in Halifax. Her focus will return there shortly after Nocturne.

“I’m going to take a couple of days off and sleep first.

“The exciting part of my career is getting to plan these big exhibitions and big events. It’s kind of one thing to the next, and when that’s done I’m going to start planning some really incredible stuff for (the centre). I’m just excited to bring some art to Haligonians.”


IF YOU GO:


Nocturne is trying to make it as easy as possible to make a night of it at the annual celebration of contemporary professional art.

Newbies, in particular, may be interested in a free “plan your night” workshop Tuesday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Tare Shop, 5539 Cornwallis St.

Experienced guides will advise people about how to make the most of Nocturne’s six hours (6 p.m.-midnight).

On Thursday, Oct. 17 at Seven Bays Bouldering, 2019 Gottingen St., there will be a festival kickoff party starting at 6 p.m. that includes a sneak peek of work by one of the event’s Anchor artists. There will be a performance of “interactive dance music” by Tax Haven, Ben McCarthy and Jonathan Carroll, a collective of software artists, sound designers and experimental musicians.

The Hub, to be located Saturday on the waterfront at Sackville Landing, is a potential meeting and rest spot where volunteers will be on hand for advice.

Also check nocturnehalifax.ca for updates.

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