Image by Daniel Ehrenworth

Curated by Jim Drobnick and Jennifer Fisher, DisplayCult

Financial district

NIGHTSENSE features visual and extra-visual artworks within the shadowy world of the financial district after dark. Addressing the spectre of market destabilization, the invisible transmission of broadcast signals, as well as hauntings from a locale where early Toronto history has been all but erased, these projects will engage the audience in critical and ludic participation. NIGHTSENSE invites a reconsideration of the sensory economy by intensifying the subtle but powerful links between bodies, aesthetic perception and shifts in capital.



Monopoly with Real Money, 2009
IAIN BAXTER& (Windsor)
Performance Art, Multimedia Installation

Money becomes a conceptual and tactile medium as Toronto celebrities play the iconic real estate board game through the night. This timely restaging of the artist's 1973 event draws eerie connections between the 1970s era-defining recession and today's market meltdown. Monopoly, patented during the Great Depression, gains new relevance with every boom-and-bust cycle. Does it provide an escape from the grim reality of stock-market crashes and factory layoffs, or offer a training ground for the next generation of entrepreneurs? Unlikely combinations of media personalities, financiers and developers vie for prize properties in an uncertain investment climate – all played in cold, hard cash. 


Gone Indian, 2009
Rebecca Belmore (Vancouver)
Performance Art

Roaming the downtown district is the nomadic presence of an artistically rezzed-up pickup truck. Decked out in "traditional" pow-wow regalia, the truck features ongoing drumming and vocals, and a dancer that erupts into action at unsuspecting moments. For one evening, the rhythms and intonations of First Nations culture reverberate against office buildings and reterritorialize the financial district. Streets, plazas, and sidewalks become the impromptu grounds for the reclamation of land in a restorative performance for spectators of the present and past. 


Wild Ride, 2009
Shawna Dempsey & Lorri Millan (Winnipeg)
Performance Art, Multimedia Installation

Bay Street – emblem of Canada's banking industry -- is closed. The smell of cotton candy and raucous music fill the air. Two midway rides reflect the whirling, tilting exhilaration of the bull market and its less than thrilling collapse. Free to the public and staffed by recently downsized businesspeople, the rides invite audience members to kinetically contemplate the ups and downs of the recent economic crisis. Out of the darkened financial district, screams will be heard!


Skry-Pod, 2009
Performance Art, Multimedia Installation

Derived from an Old English word, skry is the form of clairvoyance achieved by gazing into reflective, flickering objects such as water, candle flames, and crystal balls. Skry-Pod transforms the Sheraton's lobby and normally inaccessible gardens into a zone of divinatory encounters. Tarot readings activated through iTouch, a live tableaux in the glassed-in waterfall, and a VJ mix of the artists' aesthetic meditations on popular culture, natural cycles, and occult philosophy -- these and other activities will continue through the night. For the artists, a "positive economy" is created through a combination of paranormal and environmental activism: true prosperity is only gained by enhancing the personal freedom and well-being of others.  


Respire, 2008-09
Anna Friz (Toronto)
Sound Installation

Far beneath the transmission hubs atop the CN Tower and other downtown skyscrapers, Respire adds a visceral intimacy to the experience of radio. Featuring a multi-channel array of radio receivers suspended above visitors' heads, the installation creates an immersive sonic environment. The sounds of breathing and other bodily exclamations, typically absent from regular radio programming, arise through the welter of signals as the receivers play and emit their own oscillating frequencies. This milieu of harmonic interference and uneasy nighttime respirations reveals the normally invisible and inaudible contours of the surrounding radio landscape.


Witches’ Cradles, 2009
Center for Tactical Magic (Albany, CA, USA)
Multimedia Installation

Stepping into the cathedral-like space, visitors encounter a line of “witches' cradles” suspended from the ceiling. Originally used to punish those accused of witchcraft in the Middle Ages, these gently swaying pods were later reclaimed by witches and used to induce prophetic visions. One by one, audience members can enter and experience the cradles. Through random swaying and the careful control of one's senses, the witches' cradles disrupt the vestibular sense and create subtle shifts in consciousness. In the Nuit Blanche context of visual and auditory overload, this work uses sensory deprivation to bring forth the possibility of altered states.


Vodka Pool, 2009
Dan Mihaltianu (Berlin, Germany)

Viewers gather around a reflecting pool of alcohol situated on the pristine floor to ponder the volatile and symbolic qualities of 80-proof vodka. Liquor and liquidity bear more than passing associations to banks and money. Intoxicating, like the euphoria of riches; evaporating, like the vanishing of investments in economic downturns; alchemical, like the transformation of use value into exchange value. In black markets and other underground economies, the connections are even more literal. During wars and totalitarian regimes, such as Nicolae Ceausescu’s dictatorship in Romania, alcohol serves as both an escape and a home-brewed currency for procuring essential goods and services.


Imminent Departure, 2009
Heather Nicol (Toronto)
Multimedia Installation

Dislocated from her home in New York after the events of September 11th, Heather Nicol’s work reflects on the vicissitudes of memory, loss and desire. Life-changing upheavals -- whether caused by personal, economic or historical events -- serve as the backdrop for her intervention into Toronto's historic terminus. Union Station is the arena for countless stories of last-minute escapes, missed connections, lovers' reunions, hitting the road, and being run out of town. This space will be transformed to evoke the romance and heartbreak of travel stories brought about by unforeseen crises.  


No, 2009
Santiago Sierra

Santiago Sierra's works address structures of power in art and society. His performances, installations and interventions have been featured internationally at venues such as Ikon Gallery, P.S.1/MoMA, Museo Rufino Tamayo, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, the ICA (London), and the Sharjah and Moscow biennials. At the 2003 Venice Biennale, he exhibited at the Spanish pavilion. He is represented by the Lisson Gallery (London), Galería Helga de Alvear (Madrid) and Prometeogallery (Milan). At the artist’s request, this biography serves as the description of his piece until it is unveiled during the night of Nuit Blanche.  


10 Scents, 2009
Chih-Chien Wang (Montreal)
Multimedia Installation

Before entering a portable toilet, people tend to brace themselves for what they are about to inhale. The 10 fixtures of this piece, however, are designed for more poetic than practical purposes. Filled with unlikely materials and scents, their aromas conjure up landscapes, characters and events from Lewis Carroll's classic fantasy and logic-twister Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Rather than journeying down a rabbit-hole, visitors engage in their own adventures by just opening the door. Visual, textual, and olfactory clues may coalesce -- or not -- posing evocative sensory conundrums to ponder and explore.



How to Win the Lottery, 2009
Melissa Brown (Brooklyn, USA)
Performance Art

For a growing number of economically distressed citizens, the lottery is the last, best hope for financial security. This all-night performance features lectures, demonstrations and workshops on techniques geared towards generating -- what else? -- that elusive winning combo for Lotto 6/49.


Sounding Space, 2009
Karlen Chang, Dafydd Hughes, David McCallum (Toronto)
Sound Installation

Visitors' feet and bodies trigger musical phrases and sounds sampled from the financial sector and its workplace activities. Alone, or in groups, participants kinaesthetically orchestrate Scotiabank Plaza into a realm of fiscally-inspired melody and dissonance.


Wasted Breath, 2009
Marcia Huyer (Toronto)

In an abandoned urban alleyway, uncanny signs of life catch the eye. Piles of garbage bags inhale and exhale in an irregular breathing pattern. Viewers are invited to meander through a corridor of the financial district's enigmatically sentient detritus.


Bright Lights Big City, 2009
Ryan Stec (Ottawa)
Multimedia Installation

The CN Tower pulses from dusk to dawn in sync with a CIUT 89.5 radio broadcast. Tune in for a city-wide synaesthetic experience involving the high-energy electronic mixes of DJs Jokers of the Scene and the ambient music of if then do.  


redTV, 2008-09
Brad Todd (Montreal)
Video Installation

Filtering live signals from financial news programs, redTV highlights the colour of debt in an orb-like projection. Rendering televisual flow as ghostly lines and sanguine blotches, market fluctuations are converted into a meditation on the circulations of blood and information.

Curator Biography:

Jim Drobnick and Jennifer Fisher form the DisplayCult curatorial collaborative. Their exhibitions have been featured at museums, galleries and artist-run centres in Canada and the U.S., and include MetroSonics (2009), Odor Limits (2008), Listening Awry (2007), Do Me! (2006), Aural Cultures (2005), Linda M. Montano: 14 Years of Living Art (2003), reminiSCENT (2003), Stills: Adad Hannah (2002), Museopathy (2001), Vital Signs (2000) The Servant Problem (1999) and CounterPoses (1998), among others. DisplayCult's projects aim to rethink exhibition prototypes by amplifying sensory aesthetics, interrogating the diverse histories of display, and engaging with the performative aspects of presentation. For further information, visit

Jim Drobnick’s research centres on smell, sound and vision. His books include the anthologies The Smell Culture Reader (2006) and Aural Cultures (2004). He has published in such journal as Angelaki, High Performance, Parachute, Performance Research and The Senses and Society where he is now reviews editor. He is Associate Professor at the Ontario College of Art & Design.

Jennifer Fisher’s research focuses on touch, taste and the sixth sense. She is editor of Technologies of Intuition (2006), and her essays have appeared in such anthologies as The Senses in Performance (2007), as well as Art Journal, Border/Lines, n.paradoxa, Public and Tessera. She is Associate Professor of Contemporary Art and Curatorial Studies at York University, Toronto.