Douglas Coupland exhibit explores dark side of plastics on B.C. shores

Renowned artist uses plastics found on Haida Gwaii in upcoming display at Vancouver Aquarium

Canadian novelist and designer Douglas Coupland is taking on the plastic pollution crisis in the world’s oceans with a new exhibit coming to B.C.

Using plastic found along the province’s shorelines, Vortex will be on display at the Vancouver Aquarium, near the animals most affected by the pollution: whales, dolphins and seals.

The idea started four years ago during a return visit to Haida Gwaii, when Coupland came across debris that had washed up from the 2011 tsunami in Japan.

While walking along the shores he had been visiting for decades, he found the same plastic bottles he remembered buying in Tokyo 13 years before.

“I began working with plastic thinking it was eternal, shiny and happy,” Coupland said.

“Finding that plastic bottle on the beach was like being on the receiving end of an ancient curse warning me, ‘Be careful what you find seductive. Be careful the things you desire.’ I knew I had to do something to change this. We can turn this around.”

READ MORE: Douglas Coupland sculptures inspired by beachcombing in Haida Gwaii

Vortex includes several components surrounding a large, 50,000-litre water installation with a battered Japanese fishing boat that had been lost during the tsunami and found on Haida Gwaii.

Inside the boat sits a crew of four characters, including artist Andy Warhol and a woman in a life-jacket meant to represent an African migrant fleeing from her home country.

The idea is to represent the “complex global web” of oil, plastics, politics and power and how it’s changed through the decades, Coupland said in a release Tuesday, including “Plastic Girl and Plastic Boy” representing the future.

Inspired by the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup’s annual “dirty dozen” list, based on each year’s cleanup across the country, the exhibit also features a gallery wall show a collection of the most common marine debris found on shorelines.

Coupland said he hopes the piece can foster change and bring understanding to the global scope of plastic pollution in oceans.

“I’m just old enough to remember when people littered. But almost overnight, littering stopped. It’s a hard thing to believe, but it happened because millions of forces around the world coalesced,” Coupland said.

“If I can be part of this process with marine plastics, then great. Environmental art is not what I thought I’d be doing with my life at the age of 56, but I think a lifetime spent beside the Pacific inevitably had to assert its presence from my subconscious out into the conscious world.”

Vortex opens at the Vancouver Aquarium on May 18.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Haida Gwaii welcomes Hope in the Darkness

Holding a Sangan River walking stick, Bob Campbell set out from Old… Continue reading

X̱aad Kil office opens in Old Massett

More than anyone else, Blanche Bell speaks Haida with her children, who… Continue reading

Gwaii Haanas Report: Herring spawn and burrowing murrelets are telltale signs of spring

By Victoria Leslie As the storm season slows down, life begins to… Continue reading

Village of Masset gets set to manage local harbour

The idea was a long time in dock, but it’s nearly ready… Continue reading

Reverend Lily Bell wins Lions’ Lifetime Achievement Award

She loves dancing, singing and the colour yellow. She is a Raven,… Continue reading

Trans Mountain pipeline: How we got here

A look at the Kinder Morgan expansion, decades in the making

Giant beer tanks arrive in new B.C. home city

Molson Coors tanks finish river journey and move to overland trip in Chilliwack

VIDEO: Pipeline supporters rally across B.C.

Five simultaneous events organized by month-old Suits and Boots lobby group

VIDEO: B.C. woman praises burn fund after boat explosion in 1978

White Rock woman was 16 years old when she was left with second- and third-degree burns

B.C.’s Ryan Craig, Vegas Golden Knights chase history

Local product behind bench for expansion team’s incredible championship run

CP rail workers give strike notice

Employees could walk out as early as Tuesday at 7 p.m. PT

Suspected scammer attempts to use Black Press newspaper to dupe woman

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre offers tips after Langley resident received suspicious call

Vote points to abortion being legalized in Ireland

Voters asked whether to keep or repeal Eighth Amendment to Roman Catholic Ireland’s Constitution

Most Read