Nuit Blanche 2016 brings Winnipeg’s art scene to the forefront
Jen Doerksen, BEAT REPORTER
Some marginalized voices broke through the privilege of Winnipeg’s regular art scene during Nuit Blanche this year.
On Oct. 1, Lunacity and Nuit Noir joined a long list of free artistic events in the Exchange District.
“We want to show solidarity between two communities that are often left to the margins,” Jezy Morales said. They helped organize Lunacity, a visual and audio arts event that aimed to start conversations between the Muslim and LGTBQ communities in Winnipeg.
“After the Orlando shootings, we noticed the Muslim and LGBTQ communities being pitted against each other, so this is what came from that,” Morales said.
Attendees were invited to write or draw inspiring messages on construction paper to pin onto a corkboard. Johnny Mexico played tunes in the background. After dark, they lit up the area with colourful lights.
“A lot of discrimination in Winnipeg is very polite, very quiet,” Morales said. “I think this is a good way to start that conversation without being confrontational and get people thinking.”
Alexa Potashnik of Blackspace organized an event called Nuit Noir to diversify the talent showcased at Nuit Blanche.
“I’ve been going to Nuit Blanche since 2012, and I didn’t really see a lot of diversity throughout the night,” Potashnik said. She collaborated with artist Gibril Bangura, who is currently running a s
how at Artists Exchange in 70 Albert Street.
She approached the Nuit Blanche organizers and they were receptive.
“So then I found out about Gibril and his amazing studio. We really clicked and we share a lot of the same views about inclusion and diversity in the arts scene,” she said.
Bangura curates Artists Exchange.
“I’m giving this platform to artists who are immigrants, refugees and some First Nations. Most wouldn’t have the opportunity to exhibit before,” he said.
Potashnik said that accessibility is a big part of diversifying the arts scene.
“Even though Nuit Blanche is a voluntary night, a lot of people didn’t know when to sign up or that they could host something,” she said.
Lunacity and Nuit Noire were two of more than 15 events that took place that evening.
The RTMF Bike Jam and Synonym Art Consultation’s Wall-to-Wall Festival collaborated on one of the biggest events of the evening.
Outside the Church Vineyard building at 782 Main Street, Wall-to-Wall showcased two Indigenous-themed murals alongside live performances by Begonia, 3PEAT and DJs from On the One Collective.
Cyclists of all ages gathered by the stage as the sun slipped away for the night. Shortly after 9 p.m., hundreds of cyclists biked toward the Arlington Street Bridge with light-up bikes and portable speaker systems.
“In past years, we called it a gallery hop. We’d stop everywhere that we could,” said Will Belford, a Bike Jam organizer. “We decided this year that this is a spectacle all its own… we are art.”
There’s been a Bike Jam hosted during Nuit Blanche for the past four years. Belford said it’s always their biggest jam of the year.
Other events took place in St. Boniface, downtown, the Exchange District, and West Broadway.
Arts Junktion hosted a zine making event inside the building beside Lunacity. Megan Linton said they usually run “Art Hives” to build a community around art.
“We’re working art back into people’s’ lives. People don’t give them- selves the time or space, so we want to provide space for that,” Linton said.
She said they usually have about 25 people at each Art Hive, but Nuit Blanche brings in a different crowd.
Some exhibitions, like Bangura’s, launched on the night of Nuit Blanche and will continue into the fall.