White night is an all night arts festival that began in St Petersburg in Russia. Many cities around the world including Paris, Tel Aviv, Rome, Leeds, Montreal, Toronto and Chicago hold their own incarnations of the festival inspired the original festival.
This year Melbourne held its first White Night Festival, opening up the city to become an all night arts and performance space with bands, music, art, dancing, sculpture and a variety of other activities designed to engage the population in the arts.
I took my camera along, and with a few friends explored a little of what the night had to offer. The opportunities for photography were wonderful and there are a few samples of what was on show below. The festival itself attracted about 100,000 people in to the city, and there were often times when the press of people made it almost impossible to see what was on offer and to enjoy the moment. In hind sight It would have been better to head out in the late hours of the morning when the crowds had died down.
One thing I really enjoyed was the music in the main hall of the state library. I have never spent much time in the library and it is quite beautiful. Its design makes it an ideal space for performances. Ironic given that it’s a library. The gentle lilting of harp music and soft singing was a welcome change from the noise of crowds and pushy people outside.
The rest of the spaces around the city had been turned in to living breathing galleries with a life of their own. Lights danced on the walls and small surprises were everywhere. Sculptures and painting mixed with the cities street art to create a truly outdoor exhibition.
Most impressive were the light projections on buildings around the city turning Flinders St station in to what looked like a mad scientists laboratory and others in to kaleidoscopic windows of colour. Steam punk buildings seemed to feature strongly and I watched as some buildings appeared to grow out of the ground and then mutate and fall apart, only to be rebuilt.
The night was beautiful and the atmosphere in the city was alive. I have never seen so many people in Melbourne before.
White night was definitely a great success and I hope they do it again next year.