Whitehorse Nuit Blanche back for second year

If you see people wandering the streets of downtown Whitehorse this Saturday night until the early hours of Sunday morning, a zombie apocalypse hasn't taken over. Whitehorse Nuit Blanche will have, though.

If you see people wandering the streets of downtown Whitehorse this Saturday night until the early hours of Sunday morning, a zombie apocalypse hasn’t taken over.

Whitehorse Nuit Blanche will have, though.

For the second year the 12-hour festival will run in Whitehorse, aiming to make the public interact with more than a dozen art performances in and outside the city.

Starting at 7 p.m. on Saturday, eight Nuit Blanche artists and seven other off-site ones will be performing until 7 a.m. on Sunday. Most of the art installations need the public to participate, said organizer Aimee Dawn Robinson.

“It’s the people and the interaction they have with one another that create the artwork,” she said.

“It’s not about looking at something on a wall indoors. It’s a very different idea of what art is.”

While most artists are from the territory, one came all the way from India.

Hermant Puri, who arrived on Tuesday, will be walking around the city, showing Bollywood films on a tablet strapped to his body. But the piece will have a special connection: his art partner Mitali Nath will be doing the exact same performance, 9,600 kilometres away, in New Delhi.

The two will be linked via Skype, and Nath’s performance will be shown at the Watershed Cafe.

The goal, in part, is to “blur the boundaries between time zones,” said Puri in an interview. “We feel it’s a small world.”

Screening movies and Skyping with somebody on the other side of the world for such a long period of time presents its challenges, he admitted.

“It’s a challenge for us to entertain people for 12 hours,” Puri said.

As India is 12.5 hours ahead of Yukon time, Nath’s performance will begin in the morning while Puri’s will start in the evening.

In a room at the waterfront trolley roundhouse building, residents will be able to play with 15 experimental instruments that Jordy Walker set up.

Each instrument has a piano string strung across a railway tie with a microphone in the wood tuned to an amplifier.

“When they’re all played together or in series, it will create a kind of melody,” said Walker.

When all 15 are played at the same time, they sound like a single instrument, like a piano, he said.

As a guitar and a piano player, Walker loves the sound of strings. It’s his second time making a sound installation for the festival.

“I’ve had an interest in participatory sound experiences where people … create the final piece,” he said.

At Shipyards Park, Nicole Bauberger and Jessica Vellenga will be making a giant spiderweb from doilies, strung from the trees and lampposts.

The idea came to Bauberger after she learned about First Nation sewing techniques.

“It made me think about what kind of art my grandma and great-grandma used to do,” she said.

“I wanted to connect with the kind of art they did,” she said.

She’ll be bringing doilies that belonged to her own great-grandmother. With the help of participants, she and Vellenga will make lines of chain stitch from the corner of doilies to make the web.

They’ll also be making a spider web on a structure resembling a wall tent to make a canvas. Bauberger said she got the idea when she learned the word spider web in French translates literally to “spider canvas.”

There is no prior knowledge of crochet required, and Vellenga said she’ll be happy to teach people about it.

She may be known by some Yukoners as the face behind some of the yarn bombing done in the city, which has resulted in the airport’s historic DC-3 and one of the Beringia Interpretive Centre’s mammoth being draped in knitting.

“We’re honouring the hard work women made,” Vellenga said about the doilies.

The last piece at Nuit Blanche may offer participants a much-needed break after 12 hours of art performances. French chef Cecile Legare will be cooking all night to prepare brioche and onion soup for the festival-goers. The free breakfast will be happening at the francophone centre on Strickland Street.

Onion soup is a traditional dish offered after weddings, usually around 6 a.m. in France, Legare said.

The soup is said to have medicinal properties-helping people digest and getting over the impending crushing hangover.

“Even if it sounds weird, it’s really enjoyable to eat something savoury at 6 a.m.,” Legare said about the onion soup.

The prospect of waking up early to prepare brioche doesn’t concern her – the former chef worked from 2010 until recently as a baker, then a cook in Whitehorse.

To download a map of the Nuit Blanche activities or learn more about the other artists presenting, go to whitehorsenuitblanche.com.

Contact Pierre Chauvin at


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