"Coupland's new hutches—or the place where hope chest meets sarcophagus—are among the most potent objects in Secret Handshake. As containers and repositories of meaning, Coupland's hutches operate as communicative vessels. Each is both literal and figurative: a tangible representation of its own subject matter and a study of the ways that diverse, assembled and at times unexpected materials operate together to present ideas and make arguments in two- and three-dimensional form. Functioning as both billboard and plinth, the hutches invite scrutiny: they boast words and pictures, they serve as literal and figurative platforms for subjects as wide-ranging as economic sovereignty, heroism, radical politics, natural disasters and class division, and they exist—ontologically and phenomenologically—as daring works of art." —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.

"I've gone up to the Queen Charlotte Islands, which are actually called Haida Gwaii, for the last two years doing tsunami debris clearance. Most of the foam that washes up on the beach—and it is mostly foam—comes from shrimp farms and fish farms off the north east coast of Honshu. The first stuff to arrive was lightest stuff but now we're getting the bigger things. It's strange. —Douglas Coupland, speaking in the audio guide app that accompanied the Vanouver Art Galley exhibition Douglas Coupland: everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything.

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.


  • Title: Tsunami Chest
  • Creator: Douglas Coupland
  • Date: 2013
  • Physical Dimensions: w197.5 x h110.5 x d62.9 cm
  • Exhibition section: Secret Handshake
  • Credit line: Courtesy of the Artist and Daniel Faria Gallery
  • Type: sculpture
  • Medium: plywood, steel, Japanese tsunami debrix harvested from the north coast beaches of Haida Gwaii

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