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

Rising river prompts road closure in Chilliwack

Fraser expected to continue rise on Monday

Fraser River water levels creeping towards near-record highs

Mission gauge currently reading just under 6 metres but forecasted to rise

VIDEO: Canadian Forces members begin helping out flooded B.C. communities

Three-hundred personnel in B.C. in some off hardest hit cities

Union files ‘unfair labour practice’ complaint against Habitat for Humanity

Christian Labour Association of Canada fights for workers in Abbotsford and Chilliwack

44 evacuation alerts issued as flood preparations continue in Hope

2012 Fraser River levels are predicted, no evacuations occurred that year

VIDEO: Grand Forks shores up defences as floodwaters rise to peak levels

Canadian Forces, volunteers working to protect low-lying areas

‘Concussion is at the forefront of our thinking’: Rodeo doctor

As in any other contact sport, concussion prevention and treatment efforts continue to evolve

175 evacuation orders lifted as floods recede in Grand Forks

Officials hope to have all 3,000 people back in their homes by Monday night

B.C. Lions bring back 6-time all-star offensive lineman Jovan Olafioye

He was acquired by the Montreal Alouettes last year.

Whitecaps rally for 2-2 draw with FC Dallas

Vancouver climbed out of a two-nil hole to tie FC Dallas 2-2

B.C. VIEWS: Making sense of climate policy

Flood and fire predictions have poor track record so far

Chilliwack Chiefs moving on to RBC Cup final after thrilling win over Ottawa

Kaden Pickering scored the winning goal in the 3rd period as Chilliwack won their semi-final 3-2.

Police investigate sexual assault in Fraser Valley

Man grabs woman by shoulders and makes sexual comments

VIDEO: As floodwaters recede, crews assess the damage to Grand Forks’ downtown

More than four dozen firefighters and building inspectors came out to help

Most Read