Douglas Coupland—you know him. Author of Generation X, and conflicted progenitor of the same term; occasional Financial Times columnist; one-time Paris Review Daily interviewee.
You may now see his likeness swathed in chewing gum.
Coupland, who’s also a visual artist, constructed a seven-foot sculpture of his head from polyester and resin. It sat outside the Vancouver Art Gallery all summer long, where passersby were encouraged to deposit their gum on it.
He calls it … Gumhead.
“At first the added gum looked like jewels against the black,” Coupland said in an interview. “I’ve never seen people interact so intimately and for such a long time as they do with Gumhead. And people who drive past it every day like to monitor its progress. It’s eight pieces in one: a self-portrait, a still life, a landscape, social sculpture, performance art, conceptual art and time-based art. And it wants to be your friend.”
You may be jealous of the citizens of Vancouver—I am, kind of. For who doesn’t harbor within oneself the latent desire to cover one of the nineties’ most prominent literary names in bits of flavored, food-grade butyl rubber, wet with one’s own saliva? You can do that in January, in Toronto, when Gumhead—restored to its original pristine condition—arrives as part of Coupland‘s “everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything” exhibition.
Pro tip: bring colorful gum. “The big surprise,” Coupland said, “was mango-flavored Hubba Bubba, which provides rich vibrant deep yellow hits of color. Also, people don’t seem to chew pink bubble-gum much any more. It’s like almost the entire gum industry has moved over to off-whites. This is a loss for society.”