Cahill, an artist and zine editor from Niagara, moved to Toronto in January with a handful of contacts and a desire to expand her artistic network. Nine months later, her first ever curatorial venture features more than 40 works from 22 artists across the city. Opening night at the trendy Kensington Market venue Videofag attracted a steady stream of patrons, and fulfilled one of Cahill’s lifelong dreams.
“I actually had the idea as a child.” Cahill says. “Growing up, I just had this sense that this show had the potential to be inspirational to artists. And in university I really realized it could inspire something amazing … It seemed like all the artists I knew loved the show, and I thought it can’t be a coincidence.”
You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see the oversized pink doughnuts hanging in a window overlooking Augusta Avenue. Inside Videofag, the exhibit features pieces that range from the literal (such as a pillowy pedestal absent the prized Gummi Venus de Milo, or a deck of baseball cards featuring the roster of the 1992 Springfield Nuclear Power Plant Softball team) to the absurd (such as a bizarre music video by an artist known as Lil Zimpson, or a canvas depiction of Homer melting).
Chosen from more than 70 submissions, the pieces often go beyond mere nostalgia. A set of trading cards, for example, examines queer undertones in some characters’ relationships. Another, a hand-knit recreation of an Itchy and Scratchy episode, plays on the ironic comfort that violent cartoons proffer. And for one featured artist in particular—nine-year-old Callum Ekins—nostalgia can’t be a factor. “I got this email from his dad saying, ‘My son isn’t really into school, but he’s really into art and he’s really into The Simpsons,'” Cahill says. “This nine-year-old, he just had to be part of the show. It was such a nice element to it that was totally unexpected.”
She continues: “I guess Callum’s piece spoke the most to me because it reminds me of myself as a kid, because I didn’t get along with my teachers, I didn’t get along with my art teacher. My art teacher told me that what I did wasn’t, you know, traditional art. But this is art, taking in what’s around you. And that’s what he is doing.”
Cahill’s show has clearly struck a chord with twentysomething artists in Toronto—likely the same crowd that will flock to Outside the March’s production of Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play by Anne Washburn next May, which uses an episode of The Simpsons to explore how stories are passed from generation to generation.
It seems Torontonians are ready to look at the cultural significance of The Simpsons. “We’ve tiptoed around it online or with friends, but there hasn’t been something like this to say out loud, ‘This is what The Simpsons has done. This is it’s impact,'” Cahill says. Homer’s Odyssey “is looking at this piece of pop culture and saying, look at how valuable and layered and beautiful it is, just in that it has spoken to so many people from so may different walks of life,” she adds.
“People think that art is kept in corners for those who ‘get it.’ But true art speaks to numbers.”
Photos courtesy of Videofag.