Sleepless in Shoreditch: London Art Night attracts the midnight masses

Sleepless in Shoreditch: London Art Night attracts the midnight masses

Over the weekend, London’s night tubes were filled with more than muddled party goers and sleepy service operators. An army of art lovers joined the midnight express.

Culture vultures and their confused housemates filled the streets, traveling from church, to gallery to apartment block, visiting 40, one-night-only events staged in unusual locations across the capital.

The festival borrows the style and format of Paris’ long-running, effortlessly cool Nuit Blanche events. But can London’s (no longer quite so edgy) East End really pull of a Parisian-style art night with the same romantic finesse?

Dennis Severs House, the location for one of two Chapman brothers’ installations

It turns out, that wasn’t really the aim. Judging by the programming, (which included an open-air silent disco at Exchange Square), Art Night London is more about fun, spectacle and attracting the masses. The curator Fatoş Üstek speaks of offering everyone a warm welcome. ‘The festival celebrates the multiplicity that the East End holds,’ he explains, ‘with its diverse architectural, societal, psychological and linguistic profile.’

And attract the masses it did. Like Paris’ Nuit Blanche, famous for its snaking lines of louche flaneurs, there was no let up in queueing time, even into the wee hours. But spirits didn’t dip, (and nearby off-licences were thrilled by the late-night peak in beer sales).

The longest wait times, by a country mile, were at the Chapman brother’s duo of installations. Jake and Dinos premiered a new video installation – The Misshapeness of Things to Come – in a listed warehouse at London Dock, accompanied by a live performance by Jake’s band. A selection of the Chapmans’ defaced prints were also installed in Dennis Severs’ House, an 18th century candlelit Huguenot house, tucked on a side street near Spitalfields.

Do Ho Suh’s compelling photographic installation, in Christ Church on Commercial Street, also attracted a continuous crowd. In the work, a single camera pans through endless apartment block rooms, slicing through walls and floors, offering an intimate look into the lives of unknown occupants.

Hopping from venue to venue feels very much like we’re inside Suh’s film. These fleeting glimpses into previously closed-off areas of London are intriguing enough to keep anyone perky until morning.

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