Nocturnal Creatures

Nocturnal Creatures is a free late-night contemporary arts festival organised by the Whitechapel Gallery, with Sculpture in the City as the associate programme partner. The first edition launched on Saturday 21st July 2018, bringing together performance, video, sculpture and music, to be experienced by all in diverse locations across the East End and the Sculpture in the City sites. Cultural and historic venues within walking distance of the Whitechapel Gallery and the Sculpture in the City area are transformed for one night by spectacular artworks and events, attracting more than 8,000 visitors to the area.

For each edition of the festival, Sculpture in the City delivers an associate programme of events by that year’s Sculpture in the City artists, as well as associates of the project. Past events have included a violin performance by internationally renowned musician Midori Komachi, a dance performance entitled Scramble, 1967 by ninth edition Sculpture in the City artist Reza Aramesh and dancer Joshua Smith (pictured above) and a silent disco in the historic Leadenhall Market by acclaimed DJ Mixmaster Morris.

For the 2019 edition of Nocturnal Creatures, Sculpture in the City commissioned two social sculptures: Guillaume Vandame’s Notice Me (LGBTQIA+ Walk) and Graeme Miller’s On AirNotice Me was a peaceful walk inviting LGBTQIA+ individuals of all ages and backgrounds as well as queer allies seeking to support the cause of equality and free love to join this processional walk across the Sculpture in the City area. Participants were encouraged to dress in one of the seven colours – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink – and, together, form a rainbow.

On Air was a broadcast work staged between an aerial vantage point and an audience at ground level in an auditorium space. In this version of the work, St Botolph-without-Aldgate church was used as the auditorium space, activating the church, with the commentators taking up a vantage point at the top of the Dorsett Hotel next to the church. The landscape observed from above was translated into words by a team of commentators and relayed to the remote audience at St Botolph’s, where an act of faith between listeners and speakers ensued.

Nocturnal Creatures created a wonderful community spirit where we could spot fellow art explorers through the map in their hands, with everyone helping each other locate the art installations and making recommendations. The volunteers were all welcoming and friendly. The installations that worked best were those that were specific to the space, especially Emma Smith’s ‘Calling Time’ at Whitechapel Bell Foundry and Graeme Miller’s ‘On Air’ in St Botolph-without-Aldgate.  

Tabish Khan, Art Critic & Visual Arts Editor, Londonist