Nicole Coon, Jenni Crain, Lili Huston-Herterich In an Archipelago

Billboards - Runnymede & Ryding ⁠ accessible_forward
Runnymede Rd and Ryding Ave
Pumice Raft ⁠ not_accessible
348 Ryding Ave, Suite 103
    Nicole Coon, Sand Sketches cast in plaster #1–4, (artist’s test), 2021. Courtesy of the artist and Pumice Raft

In an Archipelago features works by Lili Huston-Herterich (Rotterdam), Nicole Coon (Toronto), and Jenni Crain (New York) that explore notions of process, duration, and temporality within an artist’s practice. This multi-site presentation on four billboards and at Pumice Raft gallery considers how the language and metaphors of photography contribute to multifaceted approaches to documentation.

How can an artwork become evidence of a process rather than a finished product? Temporality, which enables an artist’s practice to continue over time, is a durational unfolding where objects exist in a constant state of change that depends on and adapts to their social, spatial, and material contexts. These three artists embrace methods of capturing moments or events that are site-responsive, embodied, and grounded in uncertainty.

In A room with four people (2021), Lili Huston-Herterich presents a series of photographs on four billboards along Ryding Avenue and Runnymede Road, which are located near Pumice Raft. Drawing on methods of character and narrative development through the arrangement of found clothing as bodily forms, each billboard represents one of four characters, each with their name and characteristics presented in text alongside their image. The typefaces used mimic the signs of local businesses in the surrounding area to echo their shared history of textile manufacturing. In the gallery, Huston-Heterich’s manuscript of a play starring these four characters explores cycles of use, labour, and refuse.

Nicole Coon’s site-specific work Sand Sketches cast in plaster #1–4 (2021) is installed as screens for the gallery’s fluorescent light fixtures. The resin casts are made from drawings in sand—the traces of an embodied experience. Whether or not these drawings were executed with a tool or simply a finger, each line is evidence of an impression that adds ideas, feelings, and sensations to a mental image of an event or activity. Through transparency and backlight, Coon transforms her intuitive and playful sketches into liminal images that exist somewhere between an illuminated negative and an embodied sculpture. 

Working with the materials of museum displays and structures, Jenni Crain’s Untitled (2021) responds to the architectural features of Pumice Raft. Taking its proportions from the gallery’s south-facing windows, this minimal sculpture is meant to bring awareness to the viewer’s relationship to their surroundings—how they feel in the space, and their corporeal relation to the work itself. Crain’s work functions as a form of documentation, pointing toward a reading of architecture and space itself as temporal entities that are forever shifting in relation to past, present, and forthcoming influences. These three artists understand artworks as containers for an unfolding process and history of relation animated by narrative, embodied action, and material transformation. Like an archipelago, the sum of these works constitutes a reciprocal ecology, one that elaborates on photographic grammar to create productive connections, entanglements, and multiplicities.

Curated by Parker Kay

Installation Views

    Nicole Coon, Jenni Crain, Lili Huston-Herterich, In an Archipelago, installation view, Pumice Raft, May 2021. Courtesy of the artists and Pumice Raft.
    Nicole Coon, Jenni Crain, Lili Huston-Herterich, In an Archipelago, installation view, Pumice Raft, May 2021. Courtesy of the artists and Pumice Raft.
    Nicole Coon, Jenni Crain, Lili Huston-Herterich, In an Archipelago, installation view, Pumice Raft, May 2021. Courtesy of the artists and Pumice Raft.
    Lili Huston-Herterich, A room with four people, installation on Runnymede Rd and Ryding Ave, Toronto, 2021. Courtesy of the artist and CONTACT. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid
    Lili Huston-Herterich, A room with four people, installation on Runnymede Rd and Ryding Ave, Toronto, 2021. Courtesy of the artist and CONTACT. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid
    Lili Huston-Herterich, A room with four people, installation on Runnymede Rd and Ryding Ave, Toronto, 2021. Courtesy of the artist and CONTACT. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid
    Lili Huston-Herterich, A room with four people, installation on Runnymede Rd and Ryding Ave, Toronto, 2021. Courtesy of the artist and CONTACT. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid
AUDIO GUIDE

Nicole Coon, Jenni Crain, Lili Huston-Herterich
In an Archipelago

Parker Kay
Hi everybody, my name is Parker Kay, I run an art space in Toronto called Pumice Raft. We’re here today to talk about Lili Huston-Herterich’s newly commissioned billboard series, “A room with four people.” Lili, maybe you could introduce yourself?

Lili Huston-Herterich
Hi, my name is Lili. I am talking to Parker from Rotterdam, which is where I’m currently living. Parker and I are sharing a constructed sound space right now; we’ve combined our voices to fill a sonic space with the backdrop of ambient sounds from The Junction.

Parker Kay + Lili Huston-Herterich
Sounds include: the train yard at Runnymede and Dundas West; birds; traffic; the sky; repair shops on Ryding Avenue; people walking; Wal-mart in the distance; general hullabaloo; cars going by.

Lili Huston-Herterich
I work in sculpture, photography, sound, video, and installation. For the past couple years, I’ve been working with textiles that I find and make sculptural works out of, specifically clothes or things that are discarded, that I find on the street, or otherwise disposed of.

Parker Kay
What draws you to working with found materials? Specifically, in this case, found textiles.

Lili Huston-Herterich
I’ve been thinking a lot about the presence or the absence of bodies in sculptural practice. And I find used clothes particularly useful to create new characters or to create a body in a sculptural space. I started this practice in 2017, with an exhibition in Toronto at Zalucky Contemporary, also in The Junction. I asked local residents to donate clothes they didn’t need any more for photographic works. And this was a method to involve my surrounding public in a work that would eventually share their space in their neighborhood. And I’ve continued this practice in other places I’ve lived because I find it useful to source what I find in my surroundings to understand a little bit more of the context of where I’m living.

These particular clothes in these photographs are from a forest in Stockholm, where I was living for a short bit last year. I collected them and I brought them back to my studio in Rotterdam. And they found their way into my work last September, and now again, with this billboard project, and will probably continue to resurface in my work in the future.

Parker Kay
Why did you assemble these found materials into forms of bodies, or characters?

Lili Huston-Herterich
In the forest in Stockholm where I found these clothes, I also found a logbook that was used for some kind of employee check-in/check-out system. And they all had names, and those four names are what the four names of the characters in this work are based on.

Parker Kay
The reference to the logbook in the forest in Stockholm is kind of mirrored in the gallery space at Pumice Raft through a accompanying text piece. Could you talk a bit about the function of that text piece in relation to the billboards?

Lili Huston-Herterich
Yeah, I liked the moment of finding a logbook and being presented with four names that I could sort of build on through the clothes. And I like to trace this process of being introduced to characters, and then navigating to a gallery space where those characters are then found in a piece of text that can be reformed or can be read. The characters themselves are in the world that’s at a brink of change, and some of them are more comfortable with that change than others. But all of them are in some state of transition or change. It’s a combination of personal experiences, stories that I’ve heard, and contemporary political events that think through the ways that labour, money, and collective mental health factor into the making of a community.

Parker Kay
Can you talk a bit about the interplay between the public spaces of billboards and the private space of the gallery, and why these characters are best presented in public view?

Lili Huston-Herterich
Yeah, these characters whose names are Happiness, Simmering, Priceless, and River all live their lives in public. They change and they’re affected by and respond to things that happen outside of their personal space. Specifically, the billboard that’s vertical, which reads “Priceless serves and protects themselves,” is in direct reference to the slogan from the Toronto Police, “to serve and protect” and Priceless is walking away on the street protecting themselves.

This is a step in an ongoing work, which is the development of characters and the story that takes longer than just an exhibition, or just a sculpture or just a photograph. The opportunity to introduce these characters in public means that they end up starting to live and potentially be responded to by a public. They aren’t fully formed as ideas, and they can respond to how people respond to them in their development.

Parker Kay
You’ve worked on this project exclusively from your home in Rotterdam. What has it been like creating a project that will be exhibited at such distance from where you live?

Lili Huston-Herterich
It’s been difficult, specifically because I moved away from Toronto in 2018, and the gallery is in a neighborhood that’s quite close to my old home. So I’ve been feeling also in the past year a lot of distance from Canada, not being able to travel there. These billboards end up mirroring the neighborhoods that I know quite well, mostly through the typefaces that I’ve used, which are based on typefaces from local businesses in the area that I sourced collaboratively through correspondence with Parker in the months preceding the exhibition. From the businesses Dupont Transmission and Auto Services, KD Variety Store, Afghan Auto Repair, and M&P Lovely Nails.

I live in Rotterdam, which is a city that has a museum in it called Kunstinstitut Melly, and on the side of the museum, there’s a work by Canadian artist Ken Lum. And it is an image of a woman and text that introduces her as Melly Shum, who’s a woman who hates her job, and this billboard I’ve always really loved. This work in a lot of ways is an homage to that, and some sort of reaching back from Rotterdam to Canada.

Parker Kay
Lili’s work is part of the exhibition “In an Archipelago,” which also features Nicole Coon and Jenny Crain. This exhibition runs from May 2 to 30, 2021.

Lili Huston-Herterich
So, if you want to learn more about these characters, visit Pumice Raft at the gallery.