Nuit Blanche, “Night of the Living Red”

 September 30, 2008

‘Night of the Living Red’ was an exploration of horror cinema, and the exploration of language, using the word ‘Red.’ The theme explored various connotations of the word Red, including the title changing “Night of the Living Dead to Red”, exploration of colour,  colour theory, and theme. 

Nuit Blanche is a contemporary art event, which originated in Paris, France in 2002, with the intention of making contemporary art accessible to the masses by presenting it in public space. It runs all night, all over the city, and allows the public to engage with various art forms in an accessible way. In 2006, Toronto introduced Nuit Blanche, and it has become an annual event due to its success. The artwork presented during Nuit Blanche is chosen through a jury process. Artists, galleries, schools and businesses become involved in this community event  

“..Nuit Blanche is both a “high art” event and a free populous event that encourages celebration and community engagement. From sunset to sunrise city spaces and neighbourhoods are transformed into temporary exhibitions. Unusual or forbidden spaces become sites of contemporary art open for all-night discovery and rediscovery. Cultural institutions, from museums to galleries to artist-run centres, open their doors and offer free access to contemporary art. The every-day is suspended as the city’s landscape is changed to welcome a variety of artistic experiences”

Exhibiting Artists: Members of the Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts

  • Ian Amell,
  • Pieter Bakker,
  • Andrea Bird,
  • Jim Bourke,
  • Michael Brown,
  • Dan Dodds,
  • Teri Donovan,
  • Judith Geher,
  • Daphne Gerou,
  • Philip Hare,
  • Gillian Iles,
  • Lisa Johnson,
  • Margie Kelk,
  • Jelena Krstic,
  • Adam Lodzinski,
  • Joseph Muscat,
  • Frances Patella,
  • Dominique Provost,
  • Elizabeth Preiss,
  • Keijo Tapanainen,
  • Holly Wheatcroft

The theme for this year’s Nuit Blanche at Propeller is inspired by the title of the 1968 George Romero Horror Flick, Night of the Living Dead, where a group of people hide in a farmhouse from bloodthirsty zombies. Nuit Blanche being an all-night affair somewhat lends itself to the exploration of horror cinema, but by changing the word Dead to Red, the theme of the show becomes more original and expanded to explore the word or the colour Red in all its capacity.

For obvious rhyming reasons, the substitute Red becomes the subject matter of numerous ideas that the artists might explore – from the Communist connotations of the colour such as the slogan of the fifties Better Dead than Red or that of Mao’s China The East is Red.  Red is a colour that is loaded with history and symbolism such as Life, Blood, Stop!, Danger, Warning, Love and Excitement, Fire, Sex, Speed, Heat, Aggression, Revolution, Power and Gaudiness. Or it could stand for the Red planet Mars, the Roman god of war. Studies show that Red can actually have a physical impact, increasing heart rate and respiration and raising blood pressure as well as making people hungry; the Fashion and Culinary industries have also had their share of using Red to advance their marketing strategies.

The German writer Goethe in his Theory of Colour stated that colour has a certain effect on the mind implying that the colour Red excites, heats or enrages. Other colour theorists such as Faber Birren, or Johannes Itten all came up with their own interpretations. Psychologists have added their contributions to the significance of colour effect on human behaviour as did a number of artists such as Wassily Kandinsky, who, in his book Concerning the Spiritual in Art, professes that “Red gives a feeling of strength, vigour, determination, triumph.”

So whether it be Red Tape or Red Tide, Red Eye or Red Handed, this wide but loaded theme on the colour Red will certainly fire up the minds of our collective at Propeller and will in turn load up brushes and cameras alike in preparation for the 2008 Nuit Blanche which for the Propeller family will be Nuit Rouge.

Joseph Muscat


Special thanks to our community partners, donors, and supporters. 

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