“I was sort of floored. I’d never seen art like that.” That’s Ariana Austin talking about her first experience with Paris’s Nuit Blanche, a much-heralded (and frequently copied) event in which the city becomes an all-night setting for a range of visual and performance art. “What’s striking about it is that it’s really about the art,” she explains. “They re thought public spaces, like recreation centers and libraries, that were transformed by art for this one night. And a lot of it is avant-garde stuff.”
A native D.C. resident, Ariana returned to the U.S. and pledged to somehow recreate the event in her own city. Tomorrow night is the product of that vision. Sadly, Art All Night doesn’t actually go all night—it lasts from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m.—but it features more than 40 artists and is definitely in the streets, covering Chinatown and Shaw neighborhoods along the spines of 7th and 9th streets NW.
It’s not just in the streets, though. The event utilizes many of the cultural institutions that D.C. has in spades: the embassies of Spain and France, Goethe-Institut, Humanities Council, and many others are partners in the project. Two information tents—one at the Shaw Library and the other on I Street, which will be blocked off between 7th and 9th—will provide maps indicating the various venues involved.
The list of participants is pretty heavy on the visual arts, but there are some performers and dancers in there too. Ilana Silverstein and Lotta Lundgren will be performing Skypelapse at the Lamont Bishop Gallery on 9th Street. It’s modern dance, but you could also call it a live installation: Silverstein will be in the gallery, but Lundgren, who lives in Stockholm, Sweden, will be performing by Skype. The two will be communicating and dancing together all evening via a big projection on one wall.
And starting around 7 p.m., the closed-off I Street blocks will be used for a live collaboration between German graffiti artist Scotty76, the local hip hop dance group Urban Artistry, and DJ Baronhawk Poitier.
Of course, if none of this appeals to you, there are only about half a dozen other art festivals going on this weekend.