Karaoke Ossington

Karaoke makes its return to Lower Ossington

Before Lower Ossington became, uh, Lower Ossington, it was perhaps best known for its high concentration of shady karaoke bars. And while the gentrification of the neighbourhood didn't completely displace this favourite past-time, the end of September has seen something of a resurgence of karoake return to the street.

Last weekend , Angell Gallery was home to the inaugural K-Town - a karaoke themed video and performance art display. While some people wouldn't consider karaoke to be a form of art, Meera Margaret Singh and Luke Painter, the brains behind the event, beg to differ. And after seeing the exhibit firsthand, it's hard not to agree with them.

The concept is fairly simple: a group of artists were invited to create videos set to songs, popular or otherwise, of their choosing. The east wing of Angell Gallery was then converted into makeshift karaoke lounge, complete with cheap coloured lights and tacky decorations. During the exhibit's run, the public was able to visit the gallery and sing along to the catalogue of over 30 songs, while getting a glimpse of each artist's visual interpretation of the various tunes.

It's actually a great idea, and while most people won't admit it, karaoke is an activity that can be very enjoyable - with the right group of people, that is (having a couple of beers doesn't hurt, either). Last Saturday night, at a reception to celebrate the display, dozens of people came through the room to watch the artists (and anyone brave enough to participate) belt out the lyrics as the creations played behind them.

The song selection was eclectic, to say the least. With songs like "God Only Knows" by the Beach Boys, "Gangsta's Paradise" by Coolio, and "Sultans of Swing" by Dire Straits, there was a good amount of songs that could easily pump up the room. And then there were the more unusual selections, such as "Do the Bartman" by Bart Simpson and the theme songs to sitcoms like The Golden Girls and The Nanny.

The video pieces accompanying these songs ranged from hilarious to ironic to downright strange. The aforementioned "Bartman," for example, was set to clips from Smack DVD, a collection of videos that celebrate the gangsta lifestyle of rap. And there was something vaguely horrifying (yet hilarious) about watching two grown men sing Ginuwine's sexually-charged masterpiece "Pony" while various pictures of unicorns played in the background.

Singh and Painter should be commended for putting this exhibit together - it provides an unorthodox and creative way to enjoy video/performance art, and everyone in attendance seemed to enjoy the experience.

Next up, Painter and Singh will be taking K-Town just up the street to Xpace Gallery tomorrow night (October 1st) during Nuit Blanche where it will remain until October 7th. Check this page for all the details.


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