Venturing into the back area of Equinox Gallery we found these fantastic arcade cabinets by artist Sonny Assu. For his “Insert Coin” series, the pieces are a Kwakwaka’wakw perspective on the perception of wealth.
Created from maple plywood and copper (copper leaf), the cabinets explore how these natural resources of land associate with the more westernized concept of materialized wealth.
As Assu puts it himself, there’s also an element of time-travel to the cabinets.
“I wanted to speculate, ‘what-if I plucked a pre-colonialism ancestor from the timeline, and had them join me as I stood in front of this machine for hours, feeding it time and energy’, Would they assume I was in communication with the spirit realm?”
The flickering screen on the cabinet is a lo-fi representation of that spiritual connection, a wash of pulsing light, mimicking the transfixing glow of gameplay.
The fact that the machine is effectively broken has also become a metaphor for the inactions of the Canadian government when it comes to Indigenous issues.
With “game titles” LandBack, and Look at What I Columbused 2, the pieces are important lessons of history put into the mould of nostalgia. Speaking as an outsider, it’s an impressive statement to structure the message in this way, as people routinely only cherrypick the pieces of the past that make them feel a wide-eyed sense of innocence. And what better time to remember this sentiment than the last two weeks in Canada? Sometimes the best discourse before moving forward is acknowledging the need for an ‘Out of Order’ sign.