Four young Toronto artists took over DAIS last Friday to bring to Queen West one of the most interactive and inclusive art shows I’ve experienced, Capsule. I ventured to the thing pretty blindly, knowing only to enter from the back alley entrance and to expect “accessible art, encapsulated”, whatever that meant. So, I put on my art pants and my new experience boots and hopped a couple puddles to stumble into Capsule on a gloomy Toronto eve.
Although the front door was open and accessible, I was glad that the event page had instructed me to use the back entrance as I walked right into the bar upon entry. Yes, please. After a shot of Jameson and the acquisition of a tall can, I was ready to veer into the thick of it. Giles Monette, who starred in and curated the show with Pauli Jackson, was standing over by a rack of t-shirts which boasted his own ghoulish designs. We chatted and laughed and it was lovely.
I pivoted in the crowded section of the bar to find myself face-to-face with a piece familiar to me from Herman and Audrey gallery, Live Fast & Die Young, by Ben Johnston. Given the retro vibes I would come to later experience, this piece, like everything else, was perfectly curated. I left the bar, the t-shirts and the narrow entrance behind me as I made my way to the main exhibit room.
Around the four walls of the space you could see about 7 different framed pieces, each respective artist having one coin operated capsule vending machine mounted below their work. I felt immediately nostalgic for the malls, theaters and chucks-cheeses of my childhood. I took nothing away from those loonies and toonies spent but some cheap plastic toy I would undoubtedly step on later. What made this amazing was that I was paying 2$ to walk away with something of value, a memento of this exhibit, a piece of hassle-free art, and a sense of involvement with the artist I would otherwise have never experienced. I felt charged; I was literally jumping up and down after dispensing my first toonie, scrambling quickly to the bar for more change. I was excited to participate with the work in this way, and I was even more excited that an art show had succeeded in engaging me in such a refreshingly accessible manner. I get it completely. Accessible art, encapsulated. Brilliant.
In one instant, I was so drawn to Rajni Perera’s piece The Fox and The Crow that I wanted to purchase the one framed copy of it. To my dismay, it had been sold, but I was quickly revived when I realized I could still take a small part of it home with me regardless. I ran to the coin slot and took home a button she designed that I now take with me on my purse wherever I go. Brilliant.
I spent the rest of the evening browsing a variety of striking works. They seemed to all touch on themes of mortality and veered on the darker end of things in a neat and bold way; black, white and red being the primary colour scheme, it was a nice contrast to the feelings I was getting from the gum ball machines of my nostalgic youth.
Words by Nikki Bagheri; Photos c/o Buruk Kebedom & DAIS