This Kensington Market grocery store is turning into an art maze

An immersive art maze called Fairland Funhouse is coming to Kensington Market's Fairland Grocery this summer

A Kensington Market grocery store is turning into a two-storey, multi-sensory, interdimensional hotel for the summer. In August, a group of visual artists and musicians are collaborating to create Fairland Funhouse, an underground art maze that merges music and visual art in a completely immersive experience.

Upon entering the building, visitors check in through the hotel lobby and proceed through six rooms set up as alternate universes. Each series was designed in collaboration with a musical artist and a visual creator.

“Every single one of those spaces is going to be completely different,” says Stephanie Ngan, co-founder of Mondo Forma, a Toronto-based collective. “It is a choose-your-own-adventure kind of maze.”

Mondo Forma partnered with Universal Music for this project, and they wanted to highlight how empty spaces in the city can be transformed and made livelier.

The maze also utilizes augmented reality, or AR. 

“You can download our app and that unlocks a lot of the artwork,” Ngan explains. “You can actually pull your phone out and a lot of the art will pop up on your screen.”

One example is a collaboration between JUNO Award winner Lights and artists Christina Mazzulla and Shanna Van Maurik. Their piece includes a celestial cave that turns from aesthetically pleasing to terrifying through the sensation of being trapped.

Other pairs include: Bad Child and Paul Jackson, The Beaches and Broadbent Sisters, Jazz Cartier and Casey Watson, New City and Getso as well as SonReal and Jeff Blackburn.

Watson, who is a mixed media artist, describes her collaboration with rapper Jazz Cartier as a larger-than-life jungle.

“After diving into Jazz Cartier’s music and dissecting his music videos, we decided to build on his lush floral aesthetic,” says Watson. “We wanted to draw out the juxtaposition between the harder hip-hop beats and something more delicate, like flowers and greenery.”

In its prime, music could be heard from the Zimmerman’s Fairland Grocery’s (241 Augusta) rooftop during Pedestrian Sundays. Fairland Funhouse seeks to pay homage to the store’s history with a schedule of art events and parties.

The mainspace will be designed as an underwater ballroom, fitting over 200 guests and offering Liquor Donuts, opening soon in Toronto.

Tickets, which start at $20, are limited and go on sale July 10. | @jordgoldman

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