Archive for June, 2014

June 25, 2014

Douglas Coupland is authentic

I stood in two lines for a very long time to get into Doug Coupland’s artist talk at the VAG. And even then only scored tickets for Room #2 – where we saw a live video feed. I missed the sign on arrival that said “TICKETS HERE” and did a quick tour – my second – and then headed up to the 4th floor. Fortunately for me the next two people in line said, “Thank goodness we got tickets.” My head swung around, “Tickets?” I asked and scurried down two escalators and the spiral stair case to get back in the line for tickets.
Afterwards over dinner had the chance to talk through what most interested me.
1. That he sometimes asks people to bring stuff to his talks –Canadian trash, plastic bottle tops, etc. I have been known to put out calls for things like VHS videotapes, rocks (small, round, smooth) and plastic milk jugs. Now I know I am in the company of one of Canada’s most famous artists.
2. That he crowd sources artist activity but also takes his job seriously as the artist. There are Lego towers that were started in workshops for kids and adults. He selected some out for being structurally unsound or “irretrievably ugly.” Then placed them in a 10×10 grid as a family.
3. How appreciative he was of the curator and staff at the VAG. Many times he told stories about the curator seeing things he hadn’t noticed. It was clearly a collaboration made in heaven.
4. He is so engaged! He said other than giving him permission to roller skate through the exhibition, they let him do pretty much anything else. I’m guessing some artists just leave it to the curator or conversely get too controlling of how it will go.
5. Thought-provoking. He talked frequently of his own tendencies- a tendency to stack things, for instance. Got me thinking about my own tendencies.
6. Brain. Wow! What would a model of my own brain look like? As he said, mine would be different. His was fascinating but I might be even more fascinated with my own.
7. Themes revisited. He joked that all of his art, such as displaying Saskatchewan licence plates, birth place of his mother who tended to say she was born in Montreal, went back to childhood trauma. I recall an interview with Louise Bourgeois who said about her fixation on her mother in her childhood (“Mama” the spider is outside the National Gallery in Ottawa), “It’s my issue and I’m sticking to it.”(or words to that effect).
8. Open. He was reflective and open about his art, the exhibition and the process of giving an artist talk. In my life I occasionally give artist talks (alas! so far no lineups have been involved) and I usually enjoy it. This was an inspiring example of how to talk about your art in a way that was both serious and humorous.
9. Lego! The two pieces of the Towers right beside the 10×10 grid of House Kit #347 is quite remarkable. And has a lot to say. I plan to take my 7-year-old grandson to see the exhibit. For him to expand his idea of Lego as Art Practice.
10. And the Number 1 thing I liked about the Douglas Coupland Artist Talk was… he was just so darned authentic.

Click here for details of the exhibit.

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