On Flashing Lights is a light and sound installation commissioned by Nuit Blanche, Toronto. A barricade of police vehicles lined Bay Street creating space around a central stage. Throughout the evening, DJs from Toronto’s queer, immigrant and racialized communities performed music in an uneasy relationship with the lights of police cars, signalling the historic tension between these groups.
The audience was invited to participate in the performance through dance, an expression of solidarity and community in the heart of the city. The work built on Fernandes’ ongoing investigations of queer bodies and dance as acts of resistance. On the 49th minute of every hour the music was stopped to honour the the victims of the Pulse Orlando shooting; queer victims of violence past and present; and those who continue to fight for and create space for queer being today.
For many people, especially those in queer and racialized communities, the dance floor can be both a sanctuary and a space of anxiety. The music and lights were prompts to move and to reflect. Is this an emergency or a rave? What constitutes a “safe” space in Toronto, and for whom?
Nino Brown, Maneesh Bidaye, Bambii, and Karsten Sollors
Photographer: Andrew Williamson