The Whale without Jonah
Surrounded by constant connection, why do we feel so lonely? Amidst beguiling individualism, we seem to be losing our individual and collective stories. What does it mean to ‘belong’ when the opposite of an individual is no longer the crowd?
Art tackles both the material and the transcendent. Art attempts to unite the artist and the viewer in a solitary glance as it connects dots and broadens thought horizons. Art can provide directionality to common questions, and points to what ails us––and sometimes suggests a remedy. The adept artist acts as prophet to people alienated from their land, their story, and each other.
The prophetic voice of iconic Canadian artist Douglas Coupland has long addressed themes of loneliness and alienation. A deeply curious polymath, questions of modernity and eternity echo in his characters, slogans, and carefully curated collections. A gallery in a graduate theological school may seem like an unlikely home for his work, and yet whispers of art’s historical dialogue between the sacred and the secular remind us there is nothing more natural. Re-envisioning and re-purposing the mundane (like aerosol cans), Coupland’s work explores both reality and redemption. In his organized patterns and attentive interrelatedness, belonging emerges.
Born of an initiative by Regent College’s former scholar-in-residence Mary McCampbell, this exhibition was intended to coincide with a conference entitled Dis-Connect: Art and Isolation in a Digital Age. Planned before COVID and postponed because of it, the conference and gallery show sought to integrate conversations around technology, alienation, and de-narration in postmodern culture with responses of community and belonging. This exhibition will proceed with a monthly release of Coupland’s work on the Dal Schindell Gallery's website, culminating in an exhibition in the physical gallery in Summer 2021. We are profoundly indebted to Douglas Coupland for his collaboration. May we continue to see and to seek, through the vision of his work.
About the Artist
Since 1991 Coupland has written thirteen novels published in most languages. He has written and performed for England’s Royal Shakespeare Company and is a columnist for The Financial Times of London. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Times, e-flux, DIS and Vice. In 2000 Coupland amplified his visual art production and has recently had two separate museum retrospectives, Everything is Anything is Anywhere is Everywhere at the Vancouver Art Gallery, The Royal Ontario Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, and Bit Rot at Rotterdam’s Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, and Munich’s Villa Stücke. In 2015 and 2016 Coupland was artist in residence in the Paris Google Cultural Institute. In May 2018 his exhibition on ecology, Vortex, opened at the Vancouver Aquarium.
Coupland is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy, an Officer of the Order of Canada, a Officer of the Order of British Columbia, a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and receiver of the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence.
Photo credit: Ken Mayer Studio