On the last Saturday night in September, Toronto mounts its version of a twelve-hour, all-night art expo the likes of which can be seen in several other large cities. Hidden within this episode—which many of the hundreds of thousands in attendance treat as simply a free-floating street party—are ambitious motives undergoing fascinating challenges.

For instance, the subtleties of Trisha Brown’s dance/video piece, “Planes,” seen in this year’s event, call for close attention and lingering with the site for a long time. Quite a few people did just that—and the area took on a surprisingly meditative tone. (You could almost hear many asking themselves, “Where did all these people come from?”)
That question became even more compelling in view of impromptu performances and installations of considerable charm and invention. Here was one of the strangest and most touching such unscheduled devotions to a strange beauty, an electronic musical performance on an instrument surely constructed by the artist himself.

Art students at the park by their school, doing a spirited version of the Salon des Refuses.

Somewhat more commercially savvy, but no less resolved, was this blues exponent carrying along a whole sound-stage.

There were more publicly primed projects, dealing with subjects like the isolating tendencies of urban life.

And there was a catchy blend of the green and the mystical in this accelerated-action presentation of gardens growing in Arizona.

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