Nuit Blanche 2018: Artist Biographies


Nuit Blanche 2018: Artist Biographies

Date: Sat, Sep 29, 2018 07:00PM - Sun, Sep 30, 2018 07:00AM
Price: Free

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Free shuttle runs every 30 minutes starting at 7 pm (every hour after 3 am)
Loop 1: Royal Ontario Museum – Ontario Science Centre – Aga Khan Museum
Loop 2: Lawrence East SRT Station – Aga Khan Museum – Ontario Science Centre

Enjoy an unparalleled night of art, music, storytelling, comedy, and dance hosted by the Aga Khan Museum, the Aga Khan Park, and the Ismaili Centre, Toronto.


This year’s program, Arrivals and Encounters, invites you to contemplate what it means to live in a city of constant change, through the work of more than 80 artists, in over 30 performances and two installations, across 10 unique spaces.

Learn more about the artists and their installations and/or performances.

Alexander Punzalan is a multi-platform artist of the much acclaimed Toronto band DATU (Alt/World/Tribal), and producer for the emcee HanHan. Previously he produced for the projects: Styrofoam Ones and Times Neue Roman. Punzalan’s music has appeared on popular TV shows such as CSI: NY; CSI: Las Vegas, Death Valley; and Rookie Blue. Punzalan released an album with DATU in July 2017 called High Blood, which mixed gongs and electronic music with Filipino folklore stories.
(B-Yurt, 8:45–9:30 pm)


Aliya Pabani is an artist and podcaster. Most recently, she was host/producer of CANADALAND’s arts and culture podcast The Imposter, a show that covered everything from interviews with groundbreaking artists like Tanya Tagaq, to the story of an early synthesizer pioneer from the Maritimes who scored the Apollo 11 moon landing. Season two explored the poetics and politics of comedy through Aliya’s attempt to become a successful comedian. The Imposter was featured as one of the best podcasts of 2017 by CBC’s Podcast Playlist, and Ben Cannon of the AV Club called it "one of the finest, most compulsively listenable shows in the world of podcasts today."
(C-Yurt, 2–3 am)


Amai Kuda et Les Bois was selected as one of the 101 Standout Artists in CBC’s nationwide Searchlight competition. They have opened for Joel Plaskett, Kellylee Evans, and Sarah Slean. AfroSoul Volume III: Re’ is their new EP and was described by NOW magazine as a “tantalizing Afro-soul combo of folk, roots, desert blues, and African continental music.” 
(C-Yurt, 10:15–11 pm)


April Aliermo plays in Phèdre and Hooded Fang. Her work revolves around telling stories through her music, and sharing other people’s stories through her journalism and art. She often thinks about destroying the status quo and about alternative ways of living and working. Her Nuit Blanche performance, "Artemis of Colour: Soundscape Meditations," focuses on the female force and autonomy, through self-love and pleasure. Audience members are invited to close their eyes and feel the powers of the female. Visuals: Sahar Homami, a multidisciplinary artist creating and developing (live) visual content at the intersection of art, technology, philosophy, and spirituality. Projectionist: Kat Estacio is a musician and artist whose work speaks to the intersectional meeting of narratives as a diasporic queer woman of colour, expressed through supposed contradictions of nostalgia and decolonization. 
(B-Yurt, 1:45–2:30 am)


Bernice is the project of Toronto-based vocalist/songwriter Robin Dann, which Pigeons & Planes describes as “melodies reminiscent of artists like Sade with the playful sounds of artists like Deerhoof and Dirty Projectors.” Dann is a trained vocalist with a master of Arts in Music from Goldsmiths, University of London. Her band — Thom Gill (keyboards/samples), Felicity Williams (vocals), Phil Melanson (percussion), and Dan Fortin (bass) — features active members of Bahamas, Owen Pallett, Leif Vollebekk, and DIANA.
(H-Yurt, 9:30–10:15 pm)


Spiral Modes is Sanaz Nakhjavani (qanun), Majd Sekkar (clarinet), and Demetrios Petsalakis (oud), all widely-acclaimed musicians originally from Iran, Syria, and Greece, respectively. They came together in the wake of an Aga Khan Museum-organized jam session with members of the Silk Road Ensemble. The members have performed with many of Toronto’s highly regarded projects and artists, including the New Canadian Global Music Orchestra, Blue Dot, Canadian Arab Orchestra, Ventanas, and Maryem Tollar.
(B-Yurt, 7:30–8:15 pm)


Brian Solomon is a multiple Dora Award- and Gemini Award-nominated dancer, visual artist, and performer. He is of Anishinaabe and Irish descent, from the Northern Ontario village Shebahononing-Killarney. Solomon is a graduate of the School of Toronto Dance Theatre and holds a Master of Arts in Performance from the Laban Center (UK). He has presented his works (Visual Art/Theatre/Dance) across Canada, Berlin, Ingolstadt, Bamberg, Amsterdam, and London. As a creator, Solomon is passionate about helping people relearn the infinite possibilities of their ‘forgotten bodies’ and guiding them to take back the space those bodies occupy.
(D-Airstream, 7 pm–7 am)


Canadian Arabic Orchestra is a professional not-for-profit organization founded in 2014. This performance features a quartet from the Orchestra. Based in Mississauga, Ontario, the Orchestra is dedicated to connecting audiences with classical Arabic music. It celebrates the freedom and diversity of Canada’s cultural landscape, and highlights the relationship between Arabic and Western classical music traditions through concerts, lectures, and collaborations with other Canadian musical and cultural organizations.
(C-Yurt, 8:45–9:45 pm)


Coko and Daphney is an improv comedy duo based in Toronto, Canada. Together, they have performed all over North America including New York, Boston, Chicago, and most recently, Just For Laugh’s alternative festival OFF-JFL/ZOOFEST in Montreal. Coko & Daphney bring you fresh perspectives, truths, laughs and black girl magic!
(C-Yurt, 2–3 am)


Debajehmujig was the first — and remains the only — professional theatre company located on a reserve in Canada. Featuring Artistic Director Bruce Naokwegijig, Daniel Recollet-Mejaki, Reece Wabegijig, Bradliegh Trudeau, Sheila Trudeau, Sheldon Mejaki. The organization was founded by Shirlee Cheechoo, Blake Debassige, and a group of like-minded colleagues in the summer of 1984 in West Bay (M’Chigeeng First Nation), Manitoulin Island, Ontario. In August of 1989, the company moved to Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve, where its headquarters remains to this day. They create original work based on an Anishinaabag/Chippewa Nation worldview, and they build bridges between cultures, generations, and territories. 
(F- Diwan Patio, 7–7:30 pm, 8–8:30 pm, 9:15–9:45 pm)


FAWN is a Toronto-based collective dedicated to expanding the audience for Canadian classical music, directed by Amanda Smith. With FAWN, Smith commissions and produces new operas, and presents interdisciplinary concerts that correlate new classical music with other contemporary art forms.
Presented in partnership with The Music Gallery. (B-Yurt, 3:15–4 am)


Haiba is a singer, songwriter, and oud player from El-Obied, a city in western Sudan. Haiba (Abdel Wahab Heba) has worked in the music industry for many years and has collaborated with countless artists and musicians, such as Mohamed Wardi. Since arriving in Canada, he has performed in the Ethiopian New Year Festival, Habari Africa Festival, and the Afro Village Festival. Haiba will present songs from Western and Central Sudan with a group of Sudanese musicians who reside in Toronto, which includes Tariq Modathir (percussion), Hamad Ismail (bass guitar) and Omar Fathallah (violin). Presented in partnership with Batuki Music Society
(B-Yurt, 11:30 pm–12:15 am)


Iranian-Canadian Composers of Toronto (ICOT) was founded by five Toronto-based composers and musicians in 2011 with the mission of creating new works that bridge Canadian and Iranian culture through music and art. ICOT is a non-profit art organisation that has produced more than 40 new works since its inception, and has curated, or been involved as featured artists, in more than 35 concerts. ICOT’s five composers are Maziar Heidari (Music Director), Afarin Mansouri Tehrani (Artistic Director), Keyan Emami (President), Pouya Hamidi (Technical Director), and Saman Shahi (Executive Director).
(G-Ismaili Centre Toronto, Social Hall, 7:30–8:30 pm)


Javid a.k.a. JAH is a street artist and designer based in Toronto, Canada. Developing a studio with projects migrating between public art murals and industrial design, JAH is focused on how graffiti pushes the limits of space making. His painting is influenced by three-dimensional representation, experimenting with the anamorphic in letter and figure. Inspired by Sufism, JAH has been developing a practice that addresses issues facing secularized Muslim communities through the lens of esoteric Islamic art and design.
(E-Reflecting Pools, 7 pm–7 am)


JOYFULTALK is a junked-analog duo from a secluded outpost on Nova Scotia's mystical South Shore. The duo conjures micro-climate trance music. The brainchild of instrument-builder and alchemist Jay Crocker, joined by multi-instrumentalist Shawn Dicey (Ox, Lab Coast), JOYFULTALK offers up instrumental compositions of analogue tongue that flow like wordless rivers and glitching fields of electric grass through a bric-a-brac vocabulary of handmade electronics. Presented in partnership with Wavelength Music.
(H-Yurt, 12:15–1 am)


Kaïa Kater started her career early, crafting her first EP Old Soul (2013) when she was just out of high school. Since then, she’s gone on to release two more albums: Sorrow Bound (2015) and Nine Pin (2016). Her most recent album weaves between hard-hitting songs that touch on social issues, like the Black Lives Matter movement, and more personal narratives speaking to life and love in the digital age. Nine Pin won a Canadian Folk Music Award, a Stingray Rising Star Award, and it sent Kater on an 18-month tour from Ireland to Iowa, including stops at the Kennedy Center, Hillside Festival, and London’s O2 Shepherd’s Bush.
(H-Yurt, 2:45–3:30 am)


Ken Zuckerman is renowned as one of the finest sarod virtuosos performing today. He completed 37 years of training under the legendary sarod master Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, up to the maestro’s passing in June 2009. He performed with the maestro in numerous concerts, and has performed widely in Europe, India, and the United States.
(I-Auditorium, 7:30-9 pm)


Kobèna Aquaa-Harrison is an award-winning multi-disciplinary Ghanaian artist. He’s won several awards in music, media, TV, film, dance, and theatre including Dora Mavor Moore Award, Chalmers Fellowship. Kobe’s music interweaves ancient grooves and urban traditions featuring instruments he hand-builds. He is Founder & Artistic Director of the annual Michèzo! International Festival on Hanlan's Point, Toronto Island and a co-founder of Mamaya Toronto, MAMUF (Mississauga) & TAFMF festivals.
(C-Yurt, 3:30–4:15 am)


Lisa Smolkin is an artist living and working in Toronto whose art practice comprises performance, video, and drawing. She explores themes of selfhood and feminism by incorporating elements from popular culture and healing traditions within humorous narrative structures.


Maylee Todd is a multimedia artist and musician based in Toronto. Her creativity derives from a wide range of artistic disciplines: songwriting, production, film, performance art, and 3D projection mapping. Todd's themes are inspired by science fiction, human development/psychology, and unconventional thinking. She produces shows for alternative experiences. Her music is an amalgamation of soul, R&B, electronic, and experimental. 
(B-Yurt, 9:45–10:45 pm)


Moskitto Bar was founded when three talented artists were playing in the woods at OM Gathering, Ontario, while the mosquitoes were feeding on them. After a month of jamming and playing together, the connection was only stronger. Ahmed brings his Middle Eastern deep soul influence, while Yura brings his Ukrainian/Balkan flavour and Tangi brings some Celtic/Gypsy melodies.
(H-Yurt, 4:15–5 am)


Narcy, formerly known as the Narcicyst, is a musician, actor, professor, and multimedia artist based in Montreal. A pioneer of the Arab hip-hop movement, Narcy currently teaches one of Canada’s only hip-hop courses at Concordia University. His ethos blends performance with education, media with literacy, and creativity with cultural heritage.
(H-Yurt, 1:30–2:15 am)


Natalie Norman is a Spice Girls enthusiast, who loves talking about her period. Natalie has appeared at JFL42, Sled Island, Guelph Comedy Fest, Women in Comedy Fest, Pop Montreal, Canadian Music Week, Toronto SketchFest, Feminist Arts Conference, Field Trip, Sled Island, and more. She is the co-host of the Crimson Wave, a podcast about menstruation. The Crimson Wave also hosts a weekly comedy show held every Sunday at Comedy Bar in Toronto.
(C-Yurt, 2–3 am)


Native Women in the Arts (NWIA) presents Dawn and Shawna Redskye, an Anishinaabe-Irish sister duo that draws inspiration from folk to modern. They weave personal narratives of love, displacement, and medicine. Through their songs — characterized by warm and haunting blood harmonies, poetic and sometimes hard-hitting lyrics, acoustic guitar and banjo — they aim to challenge colonial impressions of past and present. NIWA is a not-for-profit organization for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis women who share the common interest of art, culture, community, and the advancement of Indigenous peoples.
(F-Diwan Patio, 6–7 am)


Native Women in the Arts (NWIA) presents Rosary Spence, an Indigenous singer, steeped in time-honoured Aboriginal rhythms and styles. She’s originally from the coastal Cree community of Fort Albany First Nation, off the coast of James Bay. Spence has performed at imagineNative Film Festival, Planet IndigenUS, and events across the country. She released her debut album, Maskawasiwin, a Cree word for “strength,” in 2015, and has been featured on a variety of albums and collaborations, most recently, Women's Voices For Attawapiskat. Spence is also a playwright and actor, having performed with Jumblies Theatre Company, Native Earth Performing Arts, and in television series Paranormal Witness.
(F-Diwan Patio, 6–7 am)


OBUXUM is a Toronto-based Somali-Canadian producer and beat maker, whose lush and characteristic sound celebrates storytelling. She has made her presence known with notable festival performances at Wavelength Festival, Kazoo! Fest, Electric Eclectics, and Venus Fest. NOW Magazine also recently included her in its list of Toronto electronic musicians to watch in 2018.
(B-Yurt, 12:30–1:15 am)


Pantayo is an all-women lo-fi R&B gong punk collective based in Toronto. They combine percussive metallophones and drums from kulintang traditions of Southern Philippines and synth-based electro grooves. Past notable projects include performances at Canada 150, The Music Gallery’s X Avant Festival, Wavelength Festival, and a collaboration with YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN on a soundtrack for the video game Severed. Founding member Kat Estacio is a musician, artist, and enabler of creative culture in Toronto. Her work speaks to the intersectional meeting of narratives as a diasporic queer woman of colour, expressed through supposed contradictions of nostalgia and decolonization. Estacio’s solo music blends drifty experimental synth tones with the soft percussive timbre of kulintang, a departure from the more rhythmic stylings of the larger outfit she shares in Pantayo.
(C-Yurt 7:15–8 pm)


Raag-Mala presents Ashis Sengupta, a dynamic and versatile tabla player who belongs to the Banaras gharana (musical lineage). He received his initial training from his father Sri Ranjit Kumar Sengupta, and was later groomed by Pandit Nanku Maharaj and Pandit Mahapurush Mishra. He is adept as a soloist and is also a nuanced accompanist of classical and semi-classical vocal and instrumental music and Kathak dance. He is on the faculty in the Department of Music and Fine Arts at the University of Delhi.
(I-Auditorium, 7:30–9 pm, 5–7 am)


Raag-Mala presents Durba Bhattacharyya, a harmonium artist and singer who has trained under senior gurus like Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty and Vidushi Meera Banerjee. Durba was taught by her husband Pandit Shantanu Bhattacharyya, and has accompanied him at concerts in India and around the world.
(I-Auditorium-H, 5–7 am)


Raag-Mala presents Shantanu Bhattacharyya, a renowned Indian vocalist and President’s Gold Medal winner. He trained under Pandit Prasun Banerjee, Vidushi Meera Banerjee, and Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty. His singing, while combining the best elements of all gharanas (musical lineage), is reflective of the gayaki (singing style) of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, the doyen of Patiala gharana.
(I-Auditorium-H, 5–7 am)


Raag-Mala presents Sweekar Katti, an acclaimed Indian sitarist who began his training with his father Dr. Sunil Katti, a sitar maestro and composer. Katti belongs to etawah gharana (musical lineage) and follows the immensely appealing gayaki ang (singing style) of playing. He has performed in classical and fusion concerts at prestigious music festivals in India and around the world.
(I-Auditorium, 11:30 pm–1 am)


Raag-Mala presents Yashwant Vaishnav, a tabla player who entered the music scene at the age of 10 with a memorable tabla solo at a concert in Pune. He subsequently became a disciple of Pandit Yogesh Shamsi, and has now matured into a scintillating soloist and accompanist.
(I-Auditorium, 11:30 pm–1 am)


Rumi Canada is known for its strong adherence to the spiritual Sufi tradition, and for exploring new movement vocabulary that reaches deep into the soul of those present. This performance features: Soley Vaseghi (vocal), Shaho Andalibi (Persian ney), Amir Amiri (santour), Ehsan Ghaffari (tar), Zohreh Shahbazy & her Daf team (daf). Past performances include Inner Journey I at the Small World Music Festival, Inner Journey II at the Tirgan Festival, and Inner Journey III at Nuit Blanche 2017 at the Aga Khan Museum.
(G-Ismaili Centre Toronto, Social Hall, 12–2 am)


Säye Skye is a transgender Iranian rap artist and LGBTQ rights activist. His experimental rap challenges deep-rooted stereotypes of misogyny, discrimination, and queerphobia. Using the poetic language of Farsi, each song elicits an instant audience connection through its passion and pulse. Säye Skye is the first artist in Iran’s history to sing about the LGBTQ community, their existence, and their protracted struggle for freedom. In 2009, he recorded and released his first single in Iran, Säye Yek Zane Irani (Shadow of an Iranian Woman). As a queer artist, he was consequently put at great risk for singing and advocating for LGBTQ. In 2010, Säye Skye was forced to seek asylum in Turkey, where he was granted refugee status. He moved to Toronto in March 2011. Säye Skye is currently collaborating with acclaimed German producers and singers on the release of his first EP.
(H-Yurt, 11–11:45 pm)


Shahriyar Jamshidi is a Kurdish-Iranian kamanche player/composer/vocalist, founder of the Dilan Chamber Ensemble, and co-performer in Kamancello. A graduate of Tehran University of Art, and a former artist-in-residence at Banff Centre, Jamshidi has devoted his artistic career to the preservation and transmission of the Kurdish musical heritage. Since settling in Canada in 2012, he has consistently sought new musical languages, thereby crossing cultures with his kamanche recitals. He has performed at Toronto’s Tirgan Festival, International Society for Improvised Music in Switzerland and Canada, High-Fest in Armenia, Festival du Monde Arabe, and Ontario Contact.
(C-Yurt, 5–5:45 am)


Simin Keramati is a multidisciplinary artist known for her work with social-political themes presented through painting, drawing, video art, and new media. Born in Tehran, she is the winner of the Grand Prize of the International Dhaka Biennial 2003—2004 for the video installation Rising up or Falling Down.
(J-Bellerive Room, 7 pm–7 am)


Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir, led by Music Director Elisa Citterio, is one of the world’s leading period ensembles and Canada’s most-toured orchestra. This performance features a quartet from the orchestra: Marco Cera (oboe), Cristina Zacharias (violin), Patrick Jordan (viola), and Margaret Gay (violoncello). Tafelmusik engages Toronto audiences with an annual season of more than 80 concerts in diverse venues across the city, as well as national and international audiences through an extensive schedule of tours and critically acclaimed recordings. The Tafelmusik Chamber Choir, under the direction of Ivars Taurins, was formed in 1981 to complement the Orchestra. Tafelmusik also seeks to transport audiences to the baroque and classical periods through adventurous cross-cultural collaborations, on stage with Toronto's Opera Atelier, and underground at its Haus Musik series. Tafelmusik's award-winning recordings on the SONY, CBC Records, Analekta, and Tafelmusik Media labels have garnered nine JUNO Awards and numerous other recording prizes.
(H-Yurt, 8–8:45 pm)


Ziibiwan is an Anishinaabe experimental-electronic producer, who explores Indigenous futurisms through visuals and sounds of a sonic, cosmic flow of ethereal, ambient landscapes, and beat-based hypnotic spaces. The FADER describes Ziibiwan’s music as “bright, curious, meditative electronic music… reminiscent of Bonobo.”
(B-Yurt, 11:15 pm–12 am)



Saturday, September 29, 7:00pm - Sunday, September 30, 7:00am


Saturday, September 29, 7:00 - 11:00pm


Saturday, September 29, 11:00pm - Sunday, September 30, 3:00am


Sunday, September 30, 3:00 - 7:00am

Government Partners

Ontario Arts Council, City of Toronto

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $153 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country.

Nous remercions le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien. L’an dernier, le Conseil a investi 153 millions de dollars pour mettre de l’art dans la vie des Canadiennes et des Canadiens de tout le pays.

Corporate Partners

Wynford Green, Modern Niagara

Major Partners

Ismaili Centre, Aga Khan Park, Culture Days, Council Fire Toronto, Ontario Science Centre

Programming Partners

Raag Mala Toronto, Rumi Canada, Native Women in the Arts, Tafelmusik, Iranian-Canadian Composers of Toronto, The Music, Gallery, Batuki Music Society, Wavelength Music, Canadian Arabic Orchestra


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