Ai Weiwei hypnotizes Nuit Blanche

Ai Weiwei's 'Forever Bicycles' mesmerizes viewers in Nathan Phillips Square during Scotiabank's Nuit Blanche all night festival in Toronto. (Julia Pelish/

Ai Weiwei’s “Forever Bicycles” mesmerizes viewers in Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square during Scotiabank’s Nuit Blanche celebration on Saturday night. (Julia Pelish/

Photo by Julia Pelish Visuals Editor

TORONTO, ONTARIO — Forever Bicycles, comprised of 3,144 interconnected bicycles, towers in front of Toronto‘s City Hall. It is created by world-renowned conceptual Chinese artist and political activist Ai Weiwei, who reinterprets everyday objects into sculptural statements. The installation description explains: “Yong Jiu, translated as ‘forever’, is the foremost bicycle brand in China and Ai re-interprets the everyday object to create a complex and abstract sculpture representing the rapidly changing social environment in China and around the globe.”

The massive size of repetitive shapes, illuminated through creative lighting, stops you in your tracks. It’s simple cleverness entices your attention and the longer you gaze the more you see. The moment when you start to absorb the different layers of meaning is the moment when Ai begins to pull you in deeper.

Thousands of people flooded Nathan Phillips Square, home to City Hall, and wandered throughout the city exploring Scotiabank’s Nuit Blanche celebration on Saturday night. The highlight of the all-night annual art event was Ai’s sensational exhibit that was erected earlier in the week.

People of all ages gravitated towards the sculpture, encircled it, and walked through it, immersed in the experience of discovery. Of course, EVERYONE was taking photos too, and the piece seemed to magically morph into different appearances depending on the perspective from which you viewed it.

If you want to learn more about the artist, you can read the recent article “Rebellious Ai Weiwei Arrives in Toronto.” The wonderful exhibit of his work, Ai Weiwei: According to What?, is at the Art Gallery of Ontario until October 27, 2013.

This image was taken with a Nikon D7000 camera body at ISO 1000, aperture f8, and shutter speed 1/20 of second. The lens used was a 16-85mm zoom set to 16mm.

Send in your photo of your travels across Canada and tell us why the moment inspired you to shoot it. You could score a travel prize — just like our previous winners.


Do you want to be a Photo of the Week winner? Simply email your submission to (images should be sent as high-resolution JPEGs and captions should provide detailed information about the featured location) and your travel photo could get chosen and publicized — and you could win a great travel prize from Magellan’s travel supply company!

View Larger Map

A photographer who has worked in the largest media markets in Canada and the U.S., Julia’s travel photos and videos have been featured prominently in the Toronto Star and been exhibited in galleries in Toronto, New York and Vancouver. Her new line of photo jewelry was inspired by her travels. Even though she is an American, one of her favourite travel experiences was spending Canada Day 2000 on Parliament Hill, joining in a parade with then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien and others. Julia is’s Visuals Editor. See her work at

Leave a Reply