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Germaine Koh
Artist

Vancouver
November 04, 2008

Germaine Koh will discuss some of the initiatives in this Hit List in her closing keynote address at the Artist Run Centres and Collectives of Ontario Hot Buttons conference in Ottawa on November 9. Koh is an internationally active Canadian visual artist whose conceptually generated work is concerned with the significance of everyday actions, familiar objects, social exchanges, and common places. Her work has been presented at venues such as le Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, De Appel (Amsterdam), BALTIC (Newcastle), Angel Row Gallery (Nottingham), Martin-Gropius-Bau (Berlin), ISEA, Para/Site Art Space (Hong Kong), the Frankfurter Kunstverein, Bloomberg SPACE (London), the Seoul Museum of Art, Artspace (Sydney), The British Museum (London), The Power Plant (Toronto), the Contemporary Art Gallery (Vancouver), Plug In ICA (Winnipeg), Ex Teresa Arte Actual (Mexico City), and the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto). She has also been included in the biennials of Liverpool, Sydney, and Montréal. Formerly Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Canada, she is also an independent curator and partner in the independent record label weewerk. Koh is represented by Catriona Jeffries Gallery, Vancouver.

1. Roller Derby

My new obsession. It's a sport for this age, featuring extreme athleticism, showmanship and role-play, a DIY ethic, and third-wave-feminist sex appeal. It's tied to music, street and grassroots cultures, and its authenticity is a big part of its underground appeal. In this incarnation of roller derby, the leagues that are springing up around the world are almost exclusively run by the skaters themselves - real women from all sorts of backgrounds who transform from librarians and veterinarians and moms into audaciously dangerous characters named Pia Mess or EightMean Wheeler or Demolicious, who beat each other up on the track, then go out for beer afterwards. I am currently in Fresh Meat (i.e., rookie) boot camp in Vancouver, where (unless I get hauled off on a stretcher) I hope to jam this season for the Terminal City Rollergirls.

2. Solar Power

I just don't get why more things aren't solar powered. Sure, it costs a bit more to get started (for now), but then you have long-lasting, low-maintenance parts untethered from the grid or, in some jurisdictions, a power source that can actually feed energy into the grid, earning you domestic utility credits. Plus, solar and wind power work symbiotically; when you don't have sun you often have wind, and vice-versa. And not only are existing photovoltaic panels becoming cheaper and more efficient, industry is developing new, flexible paper-thin materials. Last month a solar-powered piece for one of my projects was installed outside Solar One, in itself a solar-powered alternative-energy and education centre on the East River in New York City, who were preparing for a solar-powered music festival while I was there. I have to point out how they were powered, because otherwise you wouldn't know; they don't require compromise, they just work.

3. Screenprinting

A good old technology that still works. From t-shirts to stickers to high art, it's the medium to use when you want your message to last. I have way more band shirts that outlasted their bands than the contrary. Cool places like Blim in Vancouver offer workshops on all kinds of screenprinting techniques.

4. Troika

A trio of Royal College of Art graduates who have formed a cross-disciplinary art and design practice that has all the outward credibility of a Madison Avenue advertising firm but which is making some of the most insidiously radical work I've encountered - work that expresses human doubt within our digital culture. They invented the Newton Virus for Macs, the SMS Guerrilla Projector, and an innovative low-energy luminescent display technology. Oh, and they edited the anthology Digital by Design, just released by Thames and Hudson, which should instantly become the go-to resource for disruptive technology-based work.

5. Bacon

The first element (symbol Bn) on the Periodic Table of Awesoments. Also known as "the gateway meat" - the crack cocaine of gastronomy. Children beg for hits of it. Vegans dream of it. In fact, my sister Evelyn has revised the categories of vegetarianism so that she can, in good conscience, identify as a "lacto-baco" vegetarian. Mmmmmmm, bacon.

 

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