Toronto’s artistic, musical, and immersive Funhouse is now open
Toronto-based art collective Mondo Forma and Universal Music Canada are excited to announce that The Funhouse, an immersive, experiential art maze inspired by music and created in collaboration with some of Toronto’s most exciting artists, will open Sat., June 1 at 101 Lisgar St. (just north of Queen St. W.). The project will feature site-specific works from noteworthy Toronto-based visual artists like Broadbent Sisters, Ness Lee, Ben Johnston, and Paul Jackson and six featured rooms created in collaboration with Canadian musical artists.
Artist Jieun June Kim works on a piece for The Funhouse.
The Funhouse takes over a former Buddhist temple, fills 7,500 sq. ft. across three floors, and features an art maze that weaves guests in and out of a complex series of 14 different rooms and experiences. Disguised as an interdimensional hotel from the 1920s, the project toys with different time periods, reality and adventure, creating a destination unlike anything else in the city. Fusing art, music and interactive tech, The Funhouse provides a unique way for visitors to experience and support local artists’ work. Visitors can experience it seven days a week, from June 1 through September, with limited tickets ($28-40) on sale through the website starting Weds., May 1.
Exterior rendering of The Funhouse.
“We’re thrilled that our vision of a playful and eclectic experiential art space is finally coming to life after our setbacks last summer. We want to create places for Torontonians to experience and celebrate the great art that we have in our city, and provide a platform for those artists to share their work outside a traditional gallery or museum setting,” said Steph Payne, Mondo Forma’s Creative Director. “We believe art should be accessible and spark new ideas from authentic experiences, instead of merely existing as a backdrop for a cool photo.”
The Funhouse lobby rendering by artist Emily May Rose.
As guests enter the quirky, 1920’s hotel lobby-inspired reception area, they’ll choose from two different entrances to begin their exploration, winding through a choose-your-own-adventure-style maze of rooms. Along the way, Emily May Rose’s art adorns the walls and comes to life with the Funhouse Augmented Reality app. Those that come back several times may be surprised to discover different elements or performances with each visit.
Hotel Augmented Reality-enabled art by Emily May Rose.
Six featured rooms, each made possible by Universal Music Canada, were created from collaboration and ideation between musical and visual artists, inspired by the musician’s music and identity:
Casey WatsonandJazz Cartier’s multi-sensory installation ‘Deep Jungle’, features a life-size elephant, hand-made jungle, and sounds and smells that transport you into a lush tropical world.
Broadbent SistersandThe Beaches‘ ‘Rising Venus’ installation includes an explosion of fluorescent rocks with a holographic goddess at the centre – inspired by Botticelli’s famous work The Birth of Venus – which changes hue based on the viewer’s aura reading.
Multidisciplinary artistLIGHTShas collaborated with Mondo Forma to create an environment inspired by various scenes from her graphic novel ‘Skin&Earth’. Set in a post-apocalyptic future, visitors can experience her imagined universe first-hand, and bring it to life using the Funhouse Augmented Reality app.
Surrealist pop artistPaul JacksonandBad Child’s slightly creepy, yet nostalgic home dinner scene is an interpretation of modern-day romance and technological failures. The experience blends the every day with sci-fi, glitchy tech, lighting, and touch-responsive elements that lend an eerie sense to the domestic setting.
Renowned graffiti artistGetsoand band New Citybring the outside indoors with their lifelike, interactive “Graffiti Alley and Home Studio” installation, a playful re-creation of the band’s garage studio. Guests are invited to become a part of the artists world by playing the instruments synced to lighting and sound.
Jeff BlackburnandSonReal: Step into a collage-like illustrated world that brings to life SonReal’s hit ‘1000 Highways’. Hand-painted, AR-enabled cutouts of characters, signs and elements from the musician’s viral videos lend a maximalist, larger-than-life perspective to the music artist’s work.
These featured rooms are nestled amongst a winding maze of countless other scenes created by a small army of local creatives. See the full team of artists participating in the Funhouse here.
“Everyone who visits The Funhouse will have a slightly different experience, because there are so many hidden secrets and experiences to discover. It will take a few visits to truly see all there is to offer, since you really need to take your time, engage and interact with every element,” said Dawn Laing, artist manager. “So many talented, creative people have poured a lot of heart and soul into this project, and we hope people walk away amazed by what they’ve just participated in.”
Sketch of Paul Jackson and Bad Child’s concept.
The top floor will house the Underwater Ballroom, the stunning final space in the experience that offers a dreamy respite from the Funhouse madness below. The environment imagines a traditional hotel ballroom taken over by the deep sea, with larger-than-life sculptures of sea life and plants, a featured mural by renowned artist Ben Johnston and interactive projections to make people feel like guests in the underwater world. With 20’ ceilings and capacity for 200, the Underwater Ballroom will also be made available for private group event bookings.
The Funhouse was originally slated to open last summer in Kensington Market at a former grocery store that Mondo Forma had temporarily rented for the project. The opening was postponed due to significant challenges at the building site, requiring Mondo Forma to seek alternative space. Several local residents also voiced concerns about longer term plans for the space (from occupying tenant Liquor Donuts), further contributing to the project delay. Mondo Forma received strong support from both Kensington residents and the artistic community and ultimately, chose to mount this project at its current location.
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.