Work-day performance in storefront display window

For Watch I spent office hours for several consecutive days in an enclosed storefront display window, actively observing passers-by and the life of the street. Dressed in simple clothing and equipped with only a simple chair, I watched impassively but attentively, neither communicating with nor responding to those who may attempt to interact with me.

The activity requires a surprising level of vigilance on my part to avoid becoming either object or agressor. Related to this, because the activity is not recorded, the situation relies on direct experience and oral history as the means to consider and describe what transpires. The presence of the window provides both me and the passers-by the security and distance to observe each other freely, in a relationship fraught with unspoken responsibilities. The situation acknowledges but also reverses usual codes of voyeurism, rendering the situation active while confusing the roles of spectator and object. It personalizes the glancing contacts that shape social public space and intensifies spectators' awareness of their own comportment and acts of viewing.

The piece has been realized on Ontario Street East in Montreal, on Queen Street West in Toronto, and on Whyte Avenue in Edmonton. Each area is undergoing gentrification, and as such the project incidentally provided occasions to witness and discuss changes that are occurring in these neighbourhoods.

Solo Exhibitions: Solo Exhibition, Watch, 5-7 Feb 2001.
Group Exhibitions: Latitude 53, Visualeyez performance festival, 6-9 Aug 2001.
Group Exhibitions: Le mois de la performance, 1-6 Dec 2000.
Catalogues & Books: Xandra Eden, Bounce / IN THROUGH THE OUT DOOR, 2002. PDF
Catalogues & Books: Laura U Marks, Germaine Koh, 2001. PDF
Reviews, Articles & Essays: Karen Spencer, Pink Link ou la proposition rose, 2001.
Reviews, Articles & Essays: Sylvie Cotton, Pink Link ou la proposition rose, 2001. PDF
Reviews, Articles & Essays: Patrice Loubier, Germaine Koh Works., 2005. PDF
Reviews, Articles & Essays: Murray Whyte, Toronto Star, 24 Jun 2005. Read
Reviews, Articles & Essays: Rosemary Heather, C Magazine, Fall 2002. PDF
Reviews, Articles & Essays: Sarah Milroy, Globe and Mail, 3 Nov 2001. PDF
Reviews, Articles & Essays: Andrew J. Paterson, Lola, Summer 2001.
Reviews, Articles & Essays: Leah McLaren, Globe and Mail, 24 Feb 2001. PDF
Reviews, Articles & Essays: Kim Fullerton, Xtra!, 22 Feb 2001.
Reviews, Articles & Essays: Suzanne Farkas, Year 01 webzine, 2001.

Germaine Koh, Watch, 2000, work-day performance in storefront display window. View of presentation at Solo Exhibition, Toronto, 5-7 Feb 2001. Photo: Phil Klygo.