Art emerges from the museum into the public arena as part of an innovative project designed to reinvent our cities and encourage us to explore places we already know with fresh eyes. Dubbed La Nuit Blanche, this annual event sees the installation of large-scale art projects in the streets of Paris, while galleries and art institutions throw open their doors for one-off events or after-hours sessions.
From music to visual arts, the city is immersed within the art experience for a weekend. The event offers a selection of carefully curated trails in different districts and offers the opportunity for visitors to plot their own route by selecting their preferences on the map. In the Invalides area, artists Dahan and Pefura have created a pedestrian zone for the night, gathering entertainers along the way and staging concerts, food events and football matches. The public is invited to take part in the game, interacting with the space and the people in it. Pedestrians can attempt to dance on the Roller Derby along the way and exchange a cultural object below the Alexandre III bridge in return for a performance.
For an even more intense experience, the downtown shopping mall Les Halles will transform into a concert auditorium featuring a performance by 100 amateur musicians who have never played together before. Conducted by Elizabeth Askren, the musicians will turn the popular shopping centre into a classical venue, playing Ravel, Beethoven and a contemporary piece by Imsu Choi. If you don’t believe in magic, prepare to have your beliefs challenged! If you love displays of physical prowess, head for the acrobatics and vaulting displays at the Pantheon Square where you’ll marvel at an impressive open-air show.
The Nuit Blanche weekend is packed with every kind of spectacle: there is something for everyone, from public events to museum exhibits. For two days, Paris is transformed into a city of the arts. Even the public transportation system gets in on the act: artist Florian Viel has transformed subway line 1 into an urban jungle, adorning the tunnels with exotic plants and broadcasting jungle sounds. Public art is often created to challenge the places we’re most familiar with, forcing us to pay attention to our surroundings. Siting an installation in the subway encourages us to reflect on our daily transit through the city, suggesting that it can be interactive – and maybe, even enjoyable and fun, sometimes! An unusual street performance in the City Hall organised by Maroussia Rebecq showcases a fashion catwalk, populated by ordinary people wearing old clothes found on websites like eBay.
For many, the highlight of the event is that the museums open late into the night, offering the opportunity to view exhibitions – such as the Mucha exhibition at the Luxembourg Palace – under the stars. At the Paris Philarmony, musical marathons take place all night. Any music aficionado will love this venue, and with five different marathons covering repertoires from classical to contemporary, everyone is happy. Why not begin with a traditional exhibition and then go out and explore some of the more unconventional events?
Feature image: © Maya-Anaïs Yataghène