Power Ball XX: Carousal

The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery hosted its annual fundraiser on Thursday May 31st. Power Ball XX marked the 20th anniversary of the event and to celebrate this year’s theme was Carousal, a word meaning “drunken social gathering”. The party lived up to its theme by providing its patrons with ample artisanal cocktails, champagne and craft beers, while surrounded by contemporary and interactive exhibitions. Additionally, the event seemed to be inspired by its theme’s near/quasi-homonym “carousel” since many circus and carnival themed attractions were seen throughout the gallery.

The Pre-Party entrance by Proprint Services Inc.

Prior to media attendance was the pre-party, an exclusive perk that consisted of several unique attractions such as a vegan crossbow shooting, adult sized slide and a hotdog eating contest.

Still from a video by Superfish Design Firm

Upon entering the main entrance to the gallery, guests are bombarded with a visual feast of mesmerizing video projections, filled with high fashion looks posed against backgrounds of hypnotic optical illusions, and a literal feast of a counter filled with stacks upon stacks of Krispy Kreme doughnuts, all for the taking.

The more courageous and daring of patrons are tempted by the offer of free tattoos. The tattoo company Ink and Water were providing complimentary tattoos from within their circus themed setup that was decorated with customized poster reminiscent of traditional vaudeville designs. Guests could choose from a flash sheet of all black designs, such as clowns and other similar themed items, then put on a waitlist so they could go about enjoying the party (with the condition that alcohol is not consumed to the point of intoxication).

Ink & Water

Entering into the next area, the large scale awe-striking sculptures of Ana Rewakowicz illuminated the space, floating above guests in the Power Plant’s iconic high ceiling corridor. Beautifully coupled with this work was the nearby preparation and handing out of edible helium balloon candy. These treats came with instruction on how to eat these delicate confectioneries without them bursting into your face or getting into your hair, which at such a high profile gala, could easily provoke outrage amongst the well-groomed and decorated. Cutting through the gallery to the outdoor back terrace, you find another of Rewakowicz work titled The Occupants. This participatory work is a giant transparent sphere pumped with air and require a maximum of five audience members to wiggle their way through its long, constricting opening to have just your head emerge inside the sculpture. The work is extremely intimate since within the orb, the sound of the party is immediately cut off and you are face-to-face with strangers whom you inherently expected to share your thoughts on the experience or engage in small talk. The piece is not accessible to anyone with claustrophobia or people who may face challenges with the physical barriers of entrance to the piece.

Artwork by Ana Rewakowicz

Back inside, the largest gallery space there is a video projection by the Max Mara company featuring models and portrait illustrations inside moving circles. DJ Willa was situated in this space, providing the party with its fantastic music. Featured most prominently though was the central champagne pyramid and accompany bar, as well as some other food vendors, supplying oysters and CXBO Chocolate in various unique carnival sideshow games.

Video installations by Max Mara

Champagne pyramid by Max Mara

The gallery space dedicated to the artist Dominique Petrin had one of the strongest visual appeals of the exhibition. Her installation I heard they didn’t serve cocktail sausages this year has because the curator thought it would be too alpha was a bright, highly stimulating, digital printed vinyl wrapped room filled with images of aliens, designer products, disco balls, VR headsets and selfie sticks surrounded by colourful patterns reminiscent of early Internet or Tumblr aesthetics. The work contained references to Marina Abramovic’s The Artist is Present, other famous artists such as Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons and Keith Haring, as well as our Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Installations by Dominique Petrin

In an adjacent room, we are met with stark juxtaposition of Petrin’s installation. The room is darkly lit, painted entirely matte black and contains extremely macabre imagery. A sad male clown performed in a seating position, steering at himself in a Hollywood-style vanity mirror, splattered with red paint and above his head is a noose made of coated electrical wire appearing to have been torn directly from the wall. Throughout this space are chalk drawings of picture frames containing child-like drawings of clowns, and littering the floor are hundreds of red balloon animals and balloon swords. The space is eerie, yet the positive and fun-loving vibes from most of the party still manages to penetrate the room, with patrons finding photo opportunities on antique lounge chairs and playfully posing with the balloon swords and animals.

Installation views from The Secret Clown Lair, designed by Paul Zingrone and his team

The last major work in the exhibition is by artist Jennifer Steinkamp. Her work titled, Ovaries, is the largest-scale projection of the night and features 3D renderings of various fruits falling, bouncing and floating around in a bright blue space. The fruit collide with each other and with an invisible fourth wall. The work is beautiful and draws parallels between the female reproductive organs and the seed-bearing tree fruits that are being depicted.

Still from Ovaries by Jennifer Steinkamp

Overall, the night was a huge success and all the Power Plant staff, sponsors and volunteers who made it possible deserve ample praise for creating this celebration of contemporary art and fashion! From box office to departure and around every corner, there was always some new treat to try, a new drink to taste, a new outfit to admire, a new song to dance to or most importantly new and fascinating artworks to see. It’s with high hopes that the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery continues to celebrate for another 20 years!

Text and photo: Nathan Flint

May 31 – June 1, 2018, The Power Plant, 231 Queens Quay West, Toronto.

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