6 A decade of magical thinking 2017 highlights
Weekend, October 13-15, 2017 Halifax art event reaches milestone Halifax
Strange lights dance on the harbour and across brick buildings as music, laughter and calls of “Hey, did you see this?” drift over the large crowds moving through Halifax’s darkened streets.
In it’s 10th year, Nocturne: Art at Night this Saturday has grown to attract more than 30,000 people to explore Halifax and Dartmouth for a free “magical” night that showcases artists’ work in public spaces or galleries, boosts local business, and changes how we see public spaces for the rest of the year.
Reaching ten years feels like Nocturne has been “set in stone,” says executive director Lindsay Ann Cory.
“We’re a … staple event here in Halifax, and because we have that ability to be nimble we can keep changing it, and it’s not the same every year,” Cory said in an interview at the Halifax Public Gardens, site of this year’s multiple Anchor projects, alongside Nocturne co-founder and past chair Rose Zack.
Both women agreed Nocturne’s success is owed to the small but mighty and “nimble” force of unpaid board of directors, artists, supporters and volunteers that have kept the event evolving and reacting to different things going on in the city each year — perhaps better than a larger institution could.
But mostly, Zack said the amount of public interest has astounded organizers from year one — when they weren’t even sure if they would go beyond a one-off event. That year, Zack said a crowd of 4,000 people overwhelmed artists and business owners on Barrington Street.
Now, Cory says she knows many restaurants, shops and businesses put on Nocturne projects or specials, with some saying it’s their busiest night of the year.
Zack said over the years, the core values of the event on supporting artists and making it accessible haven’t changed, besides improvements like adding a curator or paid staff member A stroll through the Public Gardens for Nocturne this Saturday will show projections and dancers weaving amongst the flower beds as Anchor projects in the 2017 theme of Vanish.
Curators Anna Sprague and Emily Lawrence worked with the artists to arrive at these projects in one contained area for the first time, with solarpower batteries also used for the first time.
Vanish asks people to revisit city sites and think about other histories that aren’t as prevalent as ones we know, Sprague said, like finding ways to mark Canada 150 as settlers.
Anchor projects include light installations, dance, for the first time this year.
It’s been exciting to see the calibre of art get more interesting each year, Zack and Cory said, adding their favourite part of Nocturne is having projects spring to mind for the rest of the year when looking at local spaces, like the ferris wheel on top of Citadel Hill, or a graveyard where passersby wrote sculptures of beds under soil, a party bus filled with BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of colour) performers, and the struggle of clay being pushed through the Gardens’ gates that’s an “opportunity for dialogue surrounding race and Islamophobia.”
Other highlights of the roughly 102 projects include AIRHORN at the Central Library (live music scored to glitter painting and movement), Inter-harbour Communication Co. on both waterfronts (siblings separated by the harbour trying to communicate with large letters and signs), and Mark Hines shining a light on Citadel Hill from NSCAD. messages to the dead.
“You have a vague silhouette of an experience that you had for one night only, and there’s some element of magic there that … makes the city feel more intimate, and feel more connected,” added 2017 Nocturne co-curator Anna Sprague.
Looking to the future, Cory said growing the event might not necessarily mean more projects, but more resources to support artists doing largescale work, more artist talks leading up to the event, and finding ways for people in rural parts of HRM to get back and forth.
Nocturne executive director Lindsay Ann cory.