A Douglas Coupland Installation Is Coming to the Aquarium

April 4, 2018
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Artist Douglas Coupland is collaborating with Ocean Wise to launch a new major sculpture exhibition called Vortex at Vancouver Aquarium.

Author, artist, and designer Douglas Coupland is collaborating with Ocean Wise to highlight an escalating global conservation crisis–ocean plastic pollution–through a new major sculpture exhibition that will be unveiled at Vancouver Aquarium on May 18, 2018. This is a first for both the artist and the organization. The year-long installation, titled Vortex, will immerse visitors in a contemplative, emotive, and transformative experience.

The exhibit brings together Coupland’s west coast upbringing, his well-known fascination with both mass culture and crowdsourced materials, and his ever-evolving relationship with plastics and human-made materials. A large part of his exhibit is a creative reimagining of what is commonly called “the Pacific Trash Vortex” – also referred to as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – and will feature a colourful array of ocean plastics collected along the British Columbia coastline by Coupland and collaborating cleanup organizations. The work will be thoughtfully curated and modified by the artist.

“I’ve been collecting consumer plastics for two decades and using them as art materials. Plastic is at once beautiful yet ugly; seductive yet toxic,” said Coupland. “During these same two decades, I’ve also been visiting Haida Gwaii annually, beachcombing and hiking. In the years following the 2013 Japanese earthquake and its ensuing tsunami, the plastics I once bought in Tokyo began washing up on my home shores. It changed me on a deep level. It chilled me. I knew I had to explore the strange new relationship humans have established with the planet. I also realized I had to do this in one of the best aquariums in the world, not at a traditional art museum. The evening I decided this, I was in Berlin. Working with the team at Vancouver Aquarium, our discussion quickly evolved into an installation focused on highlighting the human fascination with plastic and the challenges it’s posing to the oceans.”

Coupland’s exhibit will be hosted at Vancouver Aquarium as an immersive display of ocean plastic. Throughout the galleries of the Aquarium, visitors will also encounter interactive experiences that highlight the ways plastic has penetrated and impacted our oceans as well as forward-looking solutions that will help us create more sustainable oceans into the future.