Nocturne 2020 on the Halifax Waterfront

October is proving to be one of the best months of the year on the east coast. It’s been five years since I’ve been home in October, so I’m glad we moved back in time to experience it this year. On Friday night, it was relatively warm and there was no wind, so I thought it would be a nice night to head down to the Halifax Waterfront and check out a few of the Nocturne art installations along the boardwalk.

If you’re not familiar with Nocturne, it’s a week-long festival of Art at Night that takes place for free every fall in downtown Halifax. Some of the art projects are live for just one day, and others stay up all week. This year, there were many virtual projects as well; I’m not sure if that is the case every year or just this year because of the pandemic. I had never been to the festival before, so I was very curious to check it out.

We headed down to the waterfront after dark, and started our walk by the Halifax Seaport Market. The lights across the harbour in Dartmouth were so beautiful, we naturally had to stop and get some pictures. Nick’s phone has a great camera, so it even managed to capture some of the stars on that clear night.

Shoreline 2099 art installation on the waterfront by Marie-Soleil Provençal.

The first installation we stumbled upon was Shoreline 2099 by Marie-Soleil Provençal. I might not have noticed it had I not read up on the art along the boardwalk, because it was just a tiny line on the ground that said “Shoreline in 2099”. But despite the small visual marker, it represents a big problem: Provençal’s installation indicates where the predicted water level will reach by 2099, due to rising sea levels. And if that prediction is true, Halifax’s waterfront will look a lot different by the end of the century. Many of the features we use and love along the waterfront could be submerged by water if we don’t start to take action.

The visual marker indicates where the water level is predicted to reach by 2099. Our waterfront could look very different in 79 years.

Many of the art installations featured at Nocturne bring light to different issues on a local and global level. These could be human rights issues, environmental issues and more. The second project we discovered spotlights an environmental and social issue in Nova Scotia: marine pollution.

This project is called 100 Years by Carley Mullally, a textile installation made from thousands of lobster bands. Lobster bands are the small rubber bands that fishers put on lobsters’ claws so they can’t hurt each other when stored together. These bands are also a major source of pollution on our shores, and it’s estimated that they take around100 years to degrade.

100 Years, a textile installation by Carley Mullally.

The bands in the textile installation were found washed up in Nova Scotia. They call attention to how we handle marine pollution, and the complexities around the lobster band issue. There is a lot of depth to the art installation, as it represents the fact that marine pollution has negative effects on both an environmental and a social level. Check out Mullally’s webpage here for a deeper dive on the 100 Years installation.

Because we stayed on the boardwalk, we only saw the two installations highlighted above. Next year, when Nick and I are living downtown, I will definitely put in a bigger effort to see more of the installations across the city. For now, I’m happy we saw the projects that we did, because I learned a lot.

I also discovered the hammocks section of the boardwalk, which is AWESOME.

Living away for most of my twenties means that I’m not as familiar with the various issues that impact humans and the environment on the east coast. I definitely want to put an effort into learning about these issues moving forward, so that I can hopefully make a small difference and create positive change while I take up space in our beautiful corner of the world.

P.S. Did you check out any Nocturne 2020 installations? If so, share what you saw and loved in the comments below!

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