172 huron project

site specific installation
video / sound / mixed media /
found objects / photographs / ephemera

tara ernst / manuela büchting
2009

A typical rooming house in Toronto's china town, dank and dingy, cluttered and decrepit, houses like it have offered a last resort to foreign students looking for inexpensive lodging. Yet Chinese owners often too old or poor to keep up repairs still maintain their properties with dignity. 172 Huron is just such a space. Owned and operated by an elderly and disabled man named Frank, the house has long out lived its use value amidst expensive condos and renovated mansion on nearby Spadina Street. But perhaps it still holds hidden value, perhaps its history should somehow be explored.

Artists Tara Ernst and Manuela Büchting embark on a three-week mission of reordering, reimagining and re-conceptualizing the interior and exterior space of the Chinatown rooming house. Using video clips from foreign films, sound and found objects from the house and neighboring streets and back alleys the two artists transform a once dingy and forgotten space into an immersive trip back into nostalgic time. Each room of the two story lodging serves as its own separate installation, some with direct relation to the cultural and historic relevancy of its location, others merely abstract musings involving imaginary characters who may have at one time inhabited the space. Mystical and haunting, immersive and full of curiosity, 172 Huron becomes a living historical allegory that visitors experience through all the senses.

tara ernst © 2012