Power Ball, the Power Plant gallery’s annual fundraising event, is rolling back around, and we caught up with the gallery’s director Gaëtane Verna to find out why it’s still one of Toronto’s quintessential art events.
After 16 years of Power Ball themes, Verna said it was difficult to cook up something different. Instead of focusing on the future (e.g. 2013’s “15 Minutes” and 2012’s “Quarter-Life Crisis” themes), the June 5 event will celebrate analogue technology and sci-fi visions of the year 2000.
“Contemporary artists are on the pulse of what’s happening in our world,” she said. “The theme Old/New World is about how we’ve changed in the digital era. I remember rotary phones, and now everything is completely digital. We started with the theme and then looked at artists who are looking at the digital shift in our world.”
The lineup of artists includes Naomi Kashiwagi (U.K.), Jon Rafman (Canada), Christine Davis (Canada), Oli Sorenson (U.S.), and New York City duo CONFETTISYSTEM. And watch out for a host of projectors from international collective BYOB (Bring Your Own Beamer) that will give you grade-school flashbacks. All of the work created for Power Ball is site-specific and has a Cinderella-at-the-ball-like expiry time. It’s worth fighting with bar crowds for a peek, because these works will disappear after the last person stumbles out of the Power Plant gallery.
Maybe you’ll be there mostly to drink your $165 entry ticket, but Verna is determined to put the art front and centre—installation space, for example, was claimed long before the sponsored bar set-ups. “When you walk into the Power Ball, you’re walking into the engine that makes the Power Plant gallery go,” she said. “The gallery needs a community around it. Even if people don’t go to an art gallery regularly, we want them to want a city with art.”
Part of this community integration involves Power Ball artist ticket packages ($2,000): the price includes two lounge tickets to the ball, and a donation to the Power Plant that allows 10 artists to attend the event. Verna says it’s a “signature” of the event and that it bridges “the divide between makers of art and the people who support the arts.” The experiment tends to play out like a high school dance with artists on one side and financiers on the other, but every so often, there’s a connection as two people from different worlds reach for the same tiny gourmet snack. That’s the magic of Power Ball.