Last week I finally had the chance to drop by the Vancouver Art Gallery to check out Douglas Coupland’s exhibit: everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything. It’s quite a fun exhibit to walk through–plenty of pop art and contemporary art pieces of Coupland’s work since 2000. Most of the pieces focus on cultural identity, themes around technology and discussions around the 21st century conditions.
One of Coupland’s work that intrigued me was his art piece that investigated Canadian culture. I think it particularly stood out to me because of the subject matter. As a fellow Canadian living in a multi-cultural country with not rich a history as Europe or Asia, I find it’s something we always seem to ask ourselves–what is Canadian culture and what does it mean to be Canadian? Coupland’s response was to create an installation that displayed an array of objects and imagery that feel familiar to Canadians but don’t make any sense to outsiders–things like cheesies, vinegar containers, hockey helmets and canned fruits and meats, etc. He calls this the secret handshake. Walking through this particular exhibit and looking at the chosen items that represent our culture certainly made you wonder how these objects were understood by others–were they so unfamiliar?
I won’t go into details of all the other pieces in the exhibit–which is available until September 1st–but here are some of my favourites.