Arctic Hutch

Douglas Coupland2013

Vancouver Art Gallery

Vancouver Art Gallery

"Arctic Hutch constitutes an unapologetic manifesto about the mired project of national modernization. An unnerving commentary on questions of governance and ecological fragility in Canada's distant northland, Coupland combines Styrofoam insulation, pieces of Canadian artist Thomas Harold Beament's decidedly problematic 1950s image of smiling 'Eskimos' in their majestic snow-bound habitat with a bright green metal cooler to fashion an elongated and lidded box that operates interchangeably as packing trunk and altar. On top of the hutch sits a Zenith 1000 radio that Coupland's physician father used when he was stationed in the north. Next to the radio stands a four-foot long, antennae-like narwhal tusk. Here, Coupland purposely references the arhitectural language of the tomb and the cenotaph thereby drawing attention to the plight of Indigenous peoples in the face of development and the known consequences of the West's rapacious hunger for the natural resources of Canada's North." —excerpt from Michael Prokopow's essay, "Coupland's True North Strong and Free," included in the catalogue that accompanied the exhibition Douglas Coupland: everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything, published in 2014 by Black Dog Publishing and the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Through a wide range of media including assemblage, installation, painting, photography, sculpture and quilts, Coupland has persistently investigated Canadian cultural identity, both benign and menacing. Using imagery and objects latent with symbolic meaning for Canadians, he delineates what it means to be Canadian, offering a “secret handshake” not easily understood by others.

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  • Title: Arctic Hutch
  • Creator: Douglas Coupland
  • Date: 2013
  • Physical Dimensions: w183 x h199 x d46 cm
  • Exhibition section: Secret Handshake
  • Credit line: Courtesy of the Artist and Daniel Faria Gallery
  • Type: sculpture
  • Medium: plywood, steel, low density foam insulation, cardboard, target from dart game, glass, 1960s Canada Dry picnic freezer container, 1950s Zenith 1000 shortwave radio, oil can, 1950s silkscreened serigraphic print: <i>On the Lookout</i> by Harold Beament produced by A.J. Casson in conjunction with the National Gallery of Canada, 1950s silkscreened serigraphic print: <i>Departure for the Hunt</i> by Harold Beament produced by A.J. Casson in conjunction with the National Gallery of Canada, narwhal tusk legally purchased from an Inuit hunt sanctioned by the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans