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

Okanagan’s smoke filled skies toxic to pets

Pet owners should take extra precautions with pets until smoke dissipates

Air support grounded as fires fill the skies with smoke

Update Aug. 19 1:25 p.m. A majority of air support is still… Continue reading

Crews continue extinguish Snowy Mountain Wildfire

The 13,359 hectare wildfire is classified as held

Smoke cancels Super League Penticton, organizers give pros a gift

Super League Penticton organizers decide to send all pro competitors to championship

Smoky skies means stay inside, according to Interior Health

The air quality in the Okanagan is considered a high risk

Canadians fear for relatives trapped amid flooding in Indian state of Kerala

More than 800,000people have been displaced by floods and landslides

IndyCar driver Wickens flown to hospital after scary crash

IndyCar said Wickens was awake and alert as he was taken to a hospital

Ex-BCTF president ‘undeterred’ after early release from pipeline protest jail term

Susan Lambert and Order of Canada recipient Jean Swanson released early

Flights from Kelowna International Airport affected by wildfire smoke

Passengers are being asked to check their flight’s status before arriving

Work continues on Monashee Complex wildfires

Crews will be assisted by helicopters if flying conditions improve

Fast food chains look to capitalize on vegetarian, vegan trend with new items

Seven per cent of Canadians consider themselves vegetarians and 2.3 per cent identify as vegans

UPDATE Gottfriedsen Mountain wildfire now classified as under control

Firefighters are working alongside the military to extinguish the wildfire near West Kelowna

B.C. swimmer halts journey across Strait of Juan de Fuca after hypothermia sets in

Victoria MS athlete Susan Simmons swam for eight-and-a-half hours in 9 C choppy waters

Most Read