Exhibition

Afterlives
Germaine Koh and Aron Louis Cohen
November 25, 2017 — February 3, 2018
Reception Friday November 24, 8PM
Curated by Joni Low

Conversation with artists: November 25, 2PM

Additional programs to come in 2018

Things fall apart and are forgotten; sometimes they re-form in unexpected ways.

Technologies old and new signify a human desire to understand, interface with and possess the world. Material intermediaries, often supports to human activity, tend to be hidden, made supplementary, or discarded after their intended use. Communication technologies transmit messages, providing conduits and thresholds between interiors and exteriors: between selves, things and worlds. Today, such technologies oscillate between material and deceivingly immaterial. Digital repositories of collective experience and memory – second worlds, second lives – have become mediated aleatory streams for accelerated knowing.

Afterlives contemplates these technologies and their communicative properties, contemporary disconnection from material realities, and the care for materials once conceived as waste. Germaine Koh and Aron Louis Cohen examine and re-form material detritus and the traces of global economies to convey plasticity and potential. Electronic waste, takeaway plastics, tourist merchandise, and the enclosures and supports of industrialized logistics all undergo transformation. Speculating on origins and circulations of these materials amidst a culture of planned obsolescence, they seek to better understand the intersections of energies – time, labour, emotion, power – embedded within our late-capitalist experience. Afterlives considers the hidden processes that manufacturing and its related waste often obscure, prompting questions of value, use, and trust in encountering the world.

The mysterious back-end of production reveals political and geographic imbalances in human systems of creation and disposal. Paradoxically, our present access to this information often requires the very processes that are harming others and the world. If external forms suggest what is unseen, and if signal and thing are bound by shared material processes; if plasticity is the capacity to give and receive form – between things, each other, the world – then how might we commune with the material and human world to learn and understand differently?

… How too, might we become something else?

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Germaine Koh is an internationally active Canadian visual artist based in Vancouver BC. Her practice is concerned with the significance of everyday exchanges, familiar objects and common places. Koh has been a recipient of the Shadbolt Foundation VIVA Award and a finalist for the Sobey Art Award. She is also an independent curator and a partner in the independent record label weewerk. Her current ongoing projects include League (2012 -), which gathers people to play invented sports and games as a practice of creative problem-solving, and Home Made Home (2014 -), a creative enterprise for building innovative small dwellings to imagine other possible ways of living.

Aron Louis Cohen is an artist working in San Francisco. His work explores technology and craft production, and is informed by his role as an art conservationist. Cohen has participated in artist residencies at KALA Art Institute (Berkeley, CA), Wave Hill (Bronx, NY), and The Center for Book Arts (New York, NY). Recent exhibitions include Mage at radiator gallery (2017: Queens, NY), Not Curated (2017: Bushwick Open Studios, NY), and Landslide/Possible Futures (2013-14: Markham, ON and Shenzhen, China), for which he grew and transformed a field of flax into books. Cohen received a BFA in Photography from Rhode Island School of Design and a MFA from Parsons, The New School for Design.

Joni Low is a writer and curator in Vancouver. She is the 2017 curator-in-residence at Or Gallery, where her projects include Charles Campbell’s Actor Boy: Travels in Birdsong (2017: Flotilla); Underground in the Aether, a symposium on existence within changing communication circuits (2017: VIVO, Burnaby Art Gallery); and Chloë Lum & Yannick Desranleau: 5 Tableaux (It Bounces Back) (2016). She is a member of the Doryphore Independent Curators Society.

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The Or Gallery acknowledges its presence on unceded Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh territories. For this exhibition, we thank the Canada Council for the Arts Grants to Culturally Diverse Curators for Residencies in the Visual Arts.

Image: Aron Louis Cohen, Unmaking Time, Forward and Reverse, 2012 / 2017.
Duraclear prints, wire binding stainless steel, LED light. 5” x 24” x 12”
Courtesy of the artist.

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