Nuit Blanche - Art Trick or Treating / by Hannah Harley


3V2A9926EDITED What a happy Sunday to recover from last night! While some of my peers are nursing hangovers, I am recovering from Paris' all night art event, Nuit Blanche!


I haven't updated the blog this week because blisters on the bottoms of my feet prevented me from my usual explorations of Paris. I am so thrilled that I healed before Nuit Blanche!!

Nuit Blanche is Paris' rendition of St. Petersburg's White Nights. St. Petersburg uses these art nights to help keep people entertained (and out of trouble) when the nights are still lit by sunlight. Paris doesn't have this light concern, but someone loved the idea and made it a HUGE deal.

I've been to art events in Pittsburgh (not nearly as many as I should, granted). This was nothing like those. It seemed that the entire city was delighting in Nuit Blanche. The lines were blocks long, but they moved quickly. People politely nudged their way through the crowds for a glimpse at the artwork. The streets were packed. The spaces had more people cramming to see the pieces than they had space.


Oh and the locations... The locations ranged from an unfinished train station (see above) to a 1200s church. The Pantheon and Hotel de Ville both had exhibits in front of and within them. It was amazing. (The above is a still of a magnificent light show)


Alot of the pieces had performance art aspects. The artists would be creating them all night (see above). Not only did we get to see the creation, but the artists would interact with one another. They'd each take turns grabbing alcohol or some new paint, then continue creating. The installation pieces were installed for just one night, and today, they're being disassembled.  Just like that.


Some of the pieces were so subtle that people walked (or biked..) on them without realizing what was below their feet. Most of them were more obvious.

It rained throughout the night, but that didn't dampen the Parisians' spirits. A lot of the cafes were open all night, selling hot chocolates, coffees, croissants, etc to the cold art lovers.



I had NO idea what to expect. I just knew I wanted to go. It ended up being a massive and amazing event. I told my friend that it was like art trick or treating. You walk and walk, stop at the proper places, get a treat (art), and then go to the next place. What a great way to ring in October!

We decided not to make it a full night (ending at 7 am) since we were both quite exhausted and wanted to get home before the metro stopped running.




While there were many amazing pieces, there was one that has really played with my mind.

I'm used to my camera and I agreeing. What I see, it photographs. It photographs what I see. Last night, one piece had a complete disconnect between me and my camera.

The light from this piece appeared to the eye (and the iPhone) to be completely white. I almost didn't photograph it because it wasn't a particularly moving piece. But I did. As it turns out, the light was not a pure white, but instead it was a combination of colors thrown together so quickly that they appeared white.


Pinks, reds, oranges, greens, blues.. All had blended to white. My camera picked up this alternative and completely accurate reality that I could not experience.

I understand that my camera is faster than my eyes, but to see bright colors where I only see white was unsettling and unnerving.


The colored light was just as real as the white light. I could experience both at the same time, but I couldn't observe both at the same time.

Needless to say, Nuit Blanche was amazing. I only wish it was more than one night a year, but I guess that's part of the magic of it.