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Illuminating Winnipeg’s Downtown: Nuit Blanche Celebrates 13 Years

Downtown Winnipeg was abustle Saturday evening as thousands of residents explored the darkened streets lit up by magnificent displays for the 13th annual Nuit Blanche.

Originating in France, Nuit Blanche is an event of contemporary and visual arts held worldwide. Hosted by Culture Days Manitoba, Winnipeg’s event invites residents and visitors to wander through central Winnipeg to enjoy installations created by local talent. 2022’s one-night event featured over 67 installations located throughout the Old Market Square, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the Forks, and a significant hub titled “Hyper Art,” a collection of several galleries and non-profits in St. Boniface.

Kurt Tittlemier, the Project Coordinator for Nuit Blanche, hopes continued events will help Winnipeggers learn to love their city more and more.

“Winnipeggers should celebrate their downtown, and I don’t think we celebrate it enough. We think it’s a beautiful downtown, and when people go out and witness Nuit Blanche’s fantastic artworks, you keep that memory of downtown. It’s a scenic, beautiful place. When you leave the exchange or come from the Forks, it’s a neat blend of green spaces and old-style architecture. “

It’s also a perfect place for artists to explore their creative visions.

“Those buildings make great alleyways and unique places to put artworks,” says Tittlemier.

You could find a forest of “wacky, waving, inflatable, arm flailing, tube men” is symbolic of the cycle of a forest fire by the Winnipeg Art Council’s public art programming. NAEDA: MOVE, an interactive video screen, and the Fortune Parlour run by Day of Pink were just some of the installations you could find right in Market Square.

If you wandered just a little further to an empty parking lot at 116 Market, it felt like a walk back in time with a 70s disco-themed roller rink titled IllumiSkate the Night. Run by roller skating enthusiasts from PegCity Rollers Golda, Signy, and Jill, this installation had neon lights, disco balls, glow sticks, and a big screen​ of local and international cityscapes, all in celebration of the worldwide resurgence of roller skating.

For Golda, skating is an opportunity to let go of yourself and your ego and just enjoy the experience.

“I’m a small business owner, and I have employees, so I take on a lot of responsibilities. Skating is one thing where your ego drops at the door, something you get used to when you’re skating. The freedom when you’re on eight wheels, we took it on during the pandemic, a dark time for many of us, and you let a lot of that go when you’re primarily outside and on your wheels.”

The first time the group took on this sort of project, they were extremely overwhelmed, but the final product was so worth it. Attending Nuit Blanche before and now taking on an installation, there is a major understanding of how significant this event is for local creators.

“I can’t imagine a better opportunity to get your vision or work out there to such a large group of people all in one night,” says Jill. “People who may not be their usual audience. All walks of life are attracted to this event for different reasons. It’s just an incredibly huge, versatile gallery that’s been made out of downtown Winnipeg.”

For Golda and Jill, note it’s a party for some people, the art for others, but no matter what, it’s just an exciting, magical event.

– Ryan Funk, U Multicultural

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of U Multicultural.

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