TORONTO – A spiraling arrangement of 3,144 interlocked bicycles will occupy much of Nathan Phillips Square in Forever Bicycles by Ai Weiwei when the streets of Toronto come alive with art.
About 112 art projects by 500 artists — including Forever Bicycles — will take over city streets in Scotiabank Nuit Blanche to start at sundown Saturday until sunrise Sunday.
The complex sculpture by the Chinese dissident artist uses bicycles with the seats and handlebars removed brought in from China.
“It is a great honour for the city to be celebrating and participating in the life and art of Ai Weiwei all of this summer,” said Julian Sleath from the city’s office of economic development and culture, referring to the exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario and Zodiac Heads at Nathan Phillips Square.
The installation, commissioned for the sundown-to-sunrise art festival in its eighth year, is the only one of its kind to be in an open-air public space and is the largest-ever materialization of the work, he said.
New this year is an extension of five projects to Oct. 14. The projects include the Garden Tower in Toronto — a massive arrangement of chairs, benches and garden furniture by Japanese artist Tadashi Kawamata — at the Metropolitan United Church and Tanks by New York artist Cal Lane at Metro Hall, a collection of recycled steel oil tanks and I-beams painstakingly hand-cut with lacy patterns. The Weiwei installation is extended to Oct. 27.
“The artists have a fantastic time in creating these artworks that change the way we look at the city,” Sleath said.
“We are maybe very familiar with some of these locations on a daily basis as we go to and from work or go to see friends but the artists make us look at these buildings and locations in a very different way.”
Also new is 1nspired Night by Scotiabank, which will project videos and photographs shared by festival-goers with hashtag #snbTO, onto a 50-foot canopy in the Bay and King streets area.
“It’s an opportunity for our audience to share their experience of the night during the actual event,” Sleath said.
Last year, the all-night extravaganza drew an estimated one-million visitors, including more than 170,000 tourists.
“There’s a sort of sheer joy of being out on the streets and enjoying life and enjoying art.”
The Yonge-University-Spadina line will run all night from St. Clair West to Eglinton stations, as will the Bloor-Danforth line from Keele to Woodbine. The TTC said the subway will close between 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 6. GO Transit will provide extra trains to and from Union station.
Find food trucks at four spots: Albert Street (at Bay Street, north of Queen Street West), King Street West (between Bay Street and York Street), Grosvenor Street at (Queen’s Park Crescent East, between Wellesley Street and College Street) and Armoury Street (at University Avenue, between Dundas Street West and Queen Street West).
Information booths will be in David Pecaut Square, Yonge-Dundas Square and Nathan Phillips Square. First aid stations will be near these.