Aisle 4 was invited by the Art Gallery of Ontario to create a unique, engaging program for its monthly First Thursdays event in response to the theme Close Encounters. Working within the constraints of a modest budget, limited installation and strike time, and museum conservation restrictions, we created a program that sought to break the social barriers between different groups of attendees and connect strangers through art in a fun and light-hearted way. Speed Acquainting was a series of fast-paced, real life, face-to-face interactions facilitated by selected artists that attempted to turn First Thursdays attendees into lifelong acquaintances. Riffing on the popular singles’ activity Speed Dating but removing its normally romantic objective, this program encouraged participants to meet, mix, and mingle with each other regardless of age, gender, profession, or marital status. The program drew individuals from the comforts of the digital realm, asking them to embrace the awkward silences and grappling of human vulnerabilities in hopes that ‘meaningful’ connections would be established.
Cameron Lee acted as MC for the event and guided participants’ interactions through 3-minute intervals, while Alvis Choi, Jon Sasaki, and Manolo Lugo facilitated their own unique speed acquainting station. Activities included: drawing your acquaintance’s portrait, creating a game from random board game pieces and declaring a winner, and engaging in an exercise of psychodynamics. Additionally, members from the local art community were invited to attend as ‘acquaintancing’ participants, orchestrating valued associations between the artworld and the general public.
Photography: Aaron Harris / Toronto Star, 2015