Germaine Koh

11 April–10 May 2008

Germaine Koh

Ephemer­al and intan­gi­ble, Koh’s work focus­es on often over­looked rela­tion­ships between peo­ple, built and social envi­ron­ments and nat­ur­al forces. Through the use of tech­no­log­i­cal con­fig­u­ra­tions that con­nect the move­ment and com­mu­ni­ca­tion of peo­ple and nat­ur­al occur­rences, Koh expos­es the under­ly­ing inter-rela­tion­ships between mech­a­nisms of social con­trol, human orga­ni­za­tion and flux­u­a­tions in nature. At the same time Koh address­es the notion of bar­ri­ers, exist­ing local­ly yet always in rela­tion to larg­er glob­al, eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal con­di­tions. Fol­low­ing her ongo­ing inter­est in link­ing oth­er­wise dis­parate social and envi­ron­men­tal pat­terns, in each of the works in this exhi­bi­tion Koh con­flates the gallery envi­ron­ment and the world out­side.

The exhi­bi­tion includ­ed three new works from 2008, Fair-weath­er forces (water lev­el), Bro­ken Arrow, Vol­ume (Traf­fic), and Call from 2006. Fair-weath­er forces (water lev­el) is Koh’s most recent work from the Fair-weath­er forces series in which stan­chions con­nect­ed by vel­vet ropes rise and fall in the gallery accord­ing to the rise and fall of the tide mea­sured at a dock on the coastal shore of Van­cou­ver in False Creek. Sug­ges­tive of waves, the stan­chions are linked to a sen­sor on the dock that reads the cur­rent water lev­el, the state of the tide and the waves.

Through her imple­men­ta­tion of anoth­er sen­sor just out­side the gallery, in Vol­ume (Traf­fic) Koh makes sim­i­lar ges­tures towards the his­to­ry of this body of water that used to stretch east­ward towards Clark Dri­ve before being filled in for the CN rail­way and indus­tri­al devel­op­ment. The sen­sor in the gallery will record the ebbs and flows of move­ment and noise pro­duced by vehi­cle and pedes­tri­an traf­fic and mark the pat­terns of this exte­ri­or envi­ron­ment through the puls­ing of coloured lights.

In con­trast, Bro­ken Arrow (made in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Ian Verchere), titled in ref­er­ence to mil­i­tary ter­mi­nol­o­gy for unac­count­ed mis­siles and bro­ken arrows, will make visu­al and audi­ble the con­stant yet imper­cep­ti­ble elec­tron­ic activ­i­ty in the gallery as view­ers (and their cell phones) enter and exit the space. As with oth­er work of Koh’s, she plays with the viewer’s expec­ta­tion of form and the unspec­tac­u­lar, draw­ing atten­tion to the way cell phones have altered our com­mu­ni­ca­tion and the “unac­count­ed for” effects of blue­tooth activ­i­ty on our health.

In Call, the view­er becomes a par­tic­i­pant in the work by using a re-fit­ted vin­tage phone in the gallery to call and have con­ver­sa­tions with strangers col­lab­o­rat­ing in Koh’s project through­out the city on their cell phones. The con­ver­sa­tions are not record­ed but exist in per­pe­tu­ity as oral his­to­ry, as the inter­ac­tion itself. In this way Koh con­tin­ues to dis­rupt con­ven­tions of exhibit­ing art and sets up an are­na in which the artist and the view­er not only con­sid­er, but trans­form and inter­rupt, social space.

For fur­ther infor­ma­tion or press enquires please con­tact Catri­ona Jef­fries or Anne Low at +1 604 736 1554.