By Paul Rocca
As the Toronto Comic Arts Festival prepares to kick off its events this weekend, the annual Toronto festival has already begun presenting various art exhibits throughout the city.
The Last Match is one such exhibit, and its opening in Toronto marks its first appearance in North America.
The Last Match is a showcase of the artworks of hundreds of artists and is curated by David Schilter and Sanita Muižniece, editors of kuš! komiksi, a Latvian-based comics anthology founded in 2007 in Riga, Latvia.
“We started it five years ago during a big financial crisis in Latvia,” said Schilter. “We were invited to make an exhibition at the contemporary art festival called Survival Kit. They gave us fifty euros to do it, so we had to make the most out of this small amount of money.”
The financial limitations faced by kuš! (pronounced ‘koosh’) led to the defining feature that made The Last Match unique in both its presentation and content: fixed to the wall are over 380 matchbook-sized canvases, each mounted by a matchstick.
“Thinking of the name ‘Survival Kit,’ we thought we might do something with matches,” said Schilter. “We would just collect little artworks on matchbooks. For the first show we had 150 pieces. Then the exhibit began to tour the world. We invited more and more people and now we have 383 works from 52 different countries.”
Every artwork on display follows its artist’s interpretation of the exhibition’s titular theme: the last match. Some pieces on display present the theme literally with one single unlit match head drawn amid a scattering of burnt wood and ash. Others extend it into a metaphor, fusing fire and matches with human anatomy or abstract imagery. Each and every one of the exhibit’s 383 pieces takes a different approach, reflecting on the variation of each artist’s perspective as well as the influence of their respective cultures.
“We have works from Singapore, Brazil, and all around Europe,” said Schilter. “Now we have a lot of new Canadian works and work from the United States.”
“We’ve had the exhibit in twelve different places in Europe. This is actually the first time it’s been overseas,” added Muižniece.
“And we can store them all in the matchbooks, which is great,” joked Schilter. “There are no shipping costs, and it’s easy to set up.”
The Last Match is now open and will be in Toronto until the end of May 12 at Videofag Storefront Cinema and Performance Lab, 187 Augusta ave., Toronto. Attendance is free.