Warflowers is a new site-specific series of images by Douglas Coupland touching on issues of home, family and military culture. Douglas Coupland was born on a Canadian Air Force base in Germany in 1961. In 1965 his family moved to Vancouver, where he still lives and works. Coupland studied art and design in Canada, Italy and Japan and his interests led him to writing. Since his first novel, Generation X, was published in 1991, he has written nine novels and several non-fiction books published in 35 languages. Coupland’s first story written specifically for the screen, Everything’s Gone Green, was released in 2006 and he is currently working on a series for television. In 2001, he resumed practice as a visual artist, which includes sculpture, painting and photography, with exhibitions in North America, Europe and Asia. Here he describes his project for CONTACT.
“In the past five years, it’s become more apparent to me just how profoundly a military upbringing within a family highly steeped in gun culture has influenced and prejudiced me. I look around where I live, and most of the art I collect and keep near me is highly military and weapons-based. To me, guns equal domesticity; military equals safety. Much of the work I’ve done since 2001 explicitly invokes the iconography of the military and of death. It’s been about me being able to locate a slot for myself within this world where I can, if not ‘fit in,’ then create a place of relative safety. My work is largely about creating spaces and artifacts where the military fuses with pop and where violence meets media culture.
“The Warflowers series is about as close to self- portraiture as I’ve ever come. I don’t want to over-explain the images; I want them to retain some sense of the poetic. The flower arrangements are ikebana arrangements of the rikka school, the most challenging of ikebana styles. The contradiction of rikka is that an extraordinary amount of artifice is used to create a natural aesthetic. They evoke landscape but they’re about as natural as microwave ovens. When placed alongside the works’ military iconography (derived from decals in plastic airplane model kits) a vibrating back-and-forth experience occurs where one is moving in and out of the 2-D graphics plane into the 3-D photo plane, ending up in a hybrid space. I find it a very beautiful and evanescent place.”
Douglas Coupland’s installation is proudly sponsored by Concord CityPlace. Coupland is the artist for the CityPlace Community Park, an 8- acre public park that will form an important art-inspired public space celebrating Canada.
The Concord CityPlace public art program was initiated in response to the Private Developer 1% for Art Requirement administered through City of Toronto Planning and Urban Design. Concord CityPlace will house $6 million worth of permanent public art projects for the enjoyment of the whole community.