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Only two more sleeps until Nuit Blanche Ottawa+Gatineau

By Diane Bond on September 19, 2013



Rest up, friends. Starting at 6:21pm this Saturday, the city will be hosting Nuit Blanche Ottawa+Gatineau (NBOG) – it’s the biggest all-night art party you’ve been waiting for!

With over 100 projects from local, national and international artists working in animation, audio, film, fine craft, installation, new media, performance, photography, sculpture, spoken word, textile, and a variety of other visual art forms – it’s the perfect opportunity to engage with the city and catch some innovative artistic practices at the same time (and stay up ’til 4:22am with 30,000 of your closest art-loving buddies).

It’s the busiest time of the year for Megan Smith and Ariane Nazroo (Creative Director and Managing Director of Nuit Blanche, respectively). We got the chance to get together earlier this week to talk about their expectations for Saturday, highlight some of the projects we’ll get to see and offer some tips for people planning on attending.

Apt613: After an incredible response from Ottawa last year, what are your hopes for this years’ edition of Nuit Blanche Ottawa+Gatineau (NBOG)?

Ariane Nazroo: The response NBOG got for its inaugural year was incredible. Of course, our hope is that the event grows every year and continues to partner with our community and art scene in creating an event that is a true reflection of our region’s culture.

Apt613: What are you excited about, for this year in particular?

Megan Smith: I’m really excited that we have a lot of returning artists and a lot of host institutions, art galleries and organizations that have come back on board – as well as some of the shops.

I’m also really excited to see some new blood in Nuit Blanche Ottawa+Gatineau. Alejandra Vera’s piece is intriguing to me and I’m looking forward to testing the flash on it. Additionally, the National Capital Commission has pulled out all the stops for their project this year. It’s going to be incredible – definitely not to be missed.

AN: I am personally excited to see The Strangeloops Collective project, Geneviève Thauvette‘s project, Christopher Griffin‘s project. Honestly, there is so much quality in this year’s program it is very hard to pick and choose.

MS: I’m also happy to see the Museum of Civilization this year – I’d like to see more national institutions come on board for the future. The thing is that Nuit Blanche is all about the community and there is a huge community investment across the cultural industry and businesses. That is really exciting to me – it shows that everybody wants this event to continue to happen in the city, and there is space for it.

Apt613: How has Nuit Blanche grown over the last year?

AN: NBOG has grown in two distinctive ways. The first one is that it has grown geographically – expanding into Downtown Gatineau, Sparks Street, Downtown Rideau – as well as keeping Hintonburg, Roaming projects and also ByWard Market. Not to mention the many Outer Place art spaces and businesses that planned projects for the evening.

NBOG has also greatly expanded in its partnerships and community involvement. This year, there is an incredible number of hosts and special projects that have been commissioned in partnerships with organizations pushing to boast our nation’s capital art scene.

Apt613: Such as?

MS: We’re really excited by taking part this year with Firefly. That is a hot-ticket item! (I have a lot of groupies stopping by the office everyday to find out about it.) It’s a really wonderful project and I’m looking forward to seeing how everyone reacts to it and how it’s distributed.

Apt613: What is Firefly?

250 Fireflies have been commissioned from Ottawa artists Mark Stephenson, Darcy Whyte and Michael Grant. Photo from the NBOG website.

250 Fireflies have been commissioned from Ottawa artists Mark Stephenson, Darcy Whyte and Michael Grant. Photo from the NBOG website.


MS: Fireflies are a socially-interactive Lumipendants that have LED’s (light-emitting diode) built into them. The more fireflies there are in the space, the more that they interact with each other, going through difference LED light sequences. They mimic animal social behaviour. It’s great that came on board to help with this – some of the components are made from recycled material already and the objects themselves can be returned to the artists afterwards to be used in educational workshops or recycled again. We want to see more partnerships like this happening to our support artists in the community.

Apt613: Last year you both made the effort to see all of the projects on the night of Nuit Blanche – this year promises over 100. How will you be getting around to see them on Saturday night?

MS: On top of the fact that we wanted to have a green footprint as much as possible with the event, we’re grateful to Ottawa Ford for providing us with a hybrid vehicle to move around the event. We have a lot of driving to and fro across Ottawa to prepare, and this is a great way to make sure that we’re having as little environmental footprint as possible.

We’ll have free shuttle buses to get everyone around to see the projects that are happening throughout Nuit Blanche. We’ll also have a time machine, a blimp and Ottawa rickshaws giving free rides in the Byward Market and Downtown Rideau areas. We want people to test out all these different methods of transportation.

Apt613: Nuit Blanche happens in cities all over the world. Why is it important for Ottawa to have one? What does it say about a city?

AN: An event like Nuit Blanche is important for a city like Ottawa because it pushes the general public to experience their urban landscape in a different and innovative new way. Art has always been a reflection of the world the artists live in. Now, art of our generation uses mediums that can be difficult to exhibit in the frames of a traditional space like galleries and museums, it is something that is closely linked to the electronic age and use of the body itself as means of expression.

The reason why it is important for Ottawa to have an event like Nuit Blanche is because it is a statement of the omnipresence of art in our lives and it makes us see that our urban landscape can and does inspire creativity and innovation.

Apt613: Any advice for people planning on attending Nuit Blanche on September 21st?

AN: Nuit Blanche is a rain or shine outdoor event so dress up for it or you might regret those high heels after five hours of walking!

Also, make sure you grab one of the print programs [you can download them here] in advance to study it and see what you would like to see so you can plan ahead. There are over 100 projects to see so it is likely you won’t get around to see all of them in one evening!

Be observant and curious. Nuit Blanche is an event where artists use the urban landscape to create, which means that you will have to look around for some projects to spot them clearly. But don’t sweat – there will be volunteers on site to help you around and direct you.

And mostly, enjoy yourself and socialize! This is an evening created for you to enjoy your city in a whole new way. Live the experience fully and share it with others.

Nuit Blanche Ottawa+Gatineau gets kicks off at 6:21pm on Saturday, September 21 and goes until 4:22am on Sunday, September 22. For more information go to

Nuit Blanche organizers Megan Smith and Ariane Nazroo. Photo by Diane Bond.

Nuit Blanche organizers Megan Smith and Ariane Nazroo. Photo by Diane Bond.