Nocturne: sight night

With more than 50 free art installations and gallery shows across the city, there are lots of ways to experience Halifax's first Nocturne: art at night festival. Here's one route to travel.

Susan Dobson, temporary architecture
Saint Mary's University Art Gallery (5865 Gorsebrook)

Guelph-based photographer Susan Dobson has built a career documenting industrial sites, housing developments and other throwaway architecture. There's a lot of work motivated by this type of architecture out there, and there are a lot of these buildings. Temporary Architectures shows her series Retail, imposing mural-sized portraits of abandoned big-box stores, and Paint Palettes, a grid of garage door photos, with commercial paint-chip colours digitally inserted. What to do when the Walmart goes bust? Rendered in a middle grey, these industrial graveyards are sadly pathetic and impotent. Curator Robin Metcalfe describes them as buildings "marooned in parking lot wastelands." Meanwhile, Paint Palettes brings to mind local artist Garry Neill Kennedy's explorations with paint-chip names. Given our current financial climate, Dobson's photographs are becoming more eerie than banal; as Metcalfe writes in his catalogue essay, they "glisten like a digital mirage, prescient images of a doomed landscape." (LK)

Also at SMU: Andrew Chubb, piano recitals at 7pm, 9pm, 11pm. François Gaudet, Nuit Blanche

Adrian Fish, Staged
Studio 21, (1223 Lower Water)

Like Susan Dobson, Halifax photographer Adrian Fish is a documenter of bland architecture, having shot such inspiring places as offices, high school classrooms and Toronto's suburban York University. Staged is one of several series documenting similar spaces in the same manner, following in the tradition of artists like German photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher; highlighting the small differences between spaces, but primarily their sameness. He shot the seating sections of Toronto theatres and auditoriums, beginning the series in 2004 after accidentally wandering into the third-storey balcony of an empty 1,200-seat theatre. Fish's interest in architectural photography derives in part from Susan Sontag's notion of photography's ultimate purpose being to expose the surface and leaving the viewer to intuit what lies beyond it. Looking onto the seating from the implied stages of Staged, the viewer becomes both performer and audience, invited to interpret the architecture and create their own drama before this audience of chairs. (LK)

See also at Studio 21: Yang Hong, Up in the air.

Lisa Lipton, High on a Hill, with performance at 11:30am
Khyber ICA (1588 Barrington)

High On a Hill is a tale of two young yodellers' romance gone wrong when global warming intervenes in their alpine home. The video and installation, with accompanying performance, originated in Lipton's "obsession with The Sound of Music, Julie Andrews and Hollywood cinema." It brings environmental realities face-to-face with the idealized romance of cinema, while taking over the entire space of the Khyber Ballroom, and incorporating wooden mountains and knitted glaciers. It's unsurprising that Lipton, also a musician in i see rowboats, would create a piece both aesthetically and sonically accomplished. The video's score was composed by bandmate Will Robinson and edited down in the final product, so Lipton arranged live performances of the full score at the exhibition's opening and at Nocturne. "Will really adhered to the structure of the narrative---I wanted to showcase the whole piece," she says. Fragile and eerie, it brings to mind Philip Glass's Koyaanisqatsi score, with i see rowboats' trademark play of instruments. (LK)

Scott Saunders and Nikolai Gauer
Lip-Sync, Pineau's Café (5215 Blowers)

Detect, Observe, Find, Discover, Notice, Spy, Sight, (1533 Barrington)

Scott Saunders' and Nikolai Gauer's Nocturne projection got its start as guerrilla art in June. "It was really a happening of sorts," says Saunders. He recorded a high-definition film of his eyes, blinking, and projected it onto two windows of the former Junk and Foibles on Barrington. People stopped their cars or pulled out cellphone cameras, and Saunders found the reaction so successful that he was eager to repeat the project this fall. For the festival, the two rerecorded the film with both their eyes, darting and out of sync, also utilizing the windows of the now-closed pawn shop next door. The accompanying mouth is projected at the also-defunct Pineau's Cafe down the street---another film of Saunders', Gauer's and a friend's mouths in close-up, making abstract movements. Saunders loves the potential in site-specific projection: "It's taking art out into the street...creating public exhibition opportunities for yourself." (LK)

The Manual Training Collective
Manual Training Building (5557 Cunard)

The Manual Training building on Cunard is a beautiful building, all brick and windows---windows which, on the night of October 18 will be filled with photographic and video projections, Duratrans and slide images and moving sculptural work. "We thought for Nocturne we'd turn the building into a lantern of sorts," says Tonia Di Risio of the Manual Training Collective. Working alone or in collaboration, visual artists belonging to the collective---also including Glynis Humphrey, James MacSwain, Mathew Reichertz and Helen Yeoman---will fill windows with both new pieces and previously shown works that were purpose-built for window installation. Humphrey is also working on an audio piece to run in the playground belonging to the children's centre that shares the building. "We have a great relationship with them," says Di Risio of the centre, which will activate its own ground-floor windows with works by the kids. (JL)

Suzanne Swannie retrospective Aura/Aurora
MSVU Art Gallery (166 Bedford Highway), starting at 7pm

Marking the opening of a 40-year retrospective of work by textile artist Suzanne Swannie, the Aura/Aurora show also promises to be a great party. "Suzanne has been deeply involved with Halifax's arts community throughout her career," says Katie Belcher, "Nocturne is a wonderful opportunity not only to inform our own practice through collaboration, but to gather and celebrate our community." Belcher is Mount Saint Vincent Art Gallery's program coordinator. She's also one of four artists---along with David Dahms, Stefan Hancherow and Swannie herself---behind the one-night-only installation. Occupying the windows forming the gallery's clerestory, Aura/Aurora will transport visitors through an elaborate spectacle of light and fog, similar to what one might experience with the aurora borealis, or northern lights. (JL)

Holly Crooks and Mocean Dance, Transitory
Halifax Ferry Terminal (Lower Water)

Carolle Crooks can barely contain her excitement. The Mocean Dance co-artistic director is talking about her company's plans for Nocturne, and the relationship between performer and audience. "The interesting bit," she says, "is what happens when that audience is pedestrian traffic moving through the performance space." Part installation, part interpretative improvisation, Transitory will explore the idea of people in transition against the backdrop of the ebb and flow of Halifax's ferry terminal traffic. The creative springboard is a collection of photographs to be exhibited on-site that examine impermanence and space itself---ghost-like images of figures moving through the Halifax train station from the series "Gathering Time" by visual artist (and mom) Holly Crooks. Accompanying Mocean's five interpretive dancers---Carolle, Sara Harrigan, Sarah Rozee, Melanie Ferro and Tania Jean---and rounding out the collaboration are local masters of the musical improv, Norman Adams and Lukas Pearse. (JL)

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