The pop culture Pied Piper, an interview with Douglas Coupland about his ROM exhibition

Royal Ontario Museum offers up a look into the bizarre and wonderful brain of Douglas Coupland

Douglas Coupland’s novels, from Generation X to Worst. Person. Ever., are stuck tidily on the shelves of many Toronto homes. His sculptures litter condominium entranceways from Liberty Village to Don Mills. His design work and his art have touched more than a few local gallery walls. Although a lifelong West Coast guy, Toronto is clearly Coupland’s second home, so why not give the guy a big exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum so we can really see what makes the prolific artist tick? Everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything, an exhibition that includes The Brain, a sculpture that puts to use 5,000 objects, to his homage to the pop art movement, Pop Explosion. It runs at the Royal Ontario Museum until April 26. We chatted with Coupland, via email as always, about just what he was thinking. 

Please tell me about the mandate or the message of the exhibition.
The massive democratization of just about everything.

Has technology changed how we interact with art?
Yes. Watch people in museums these days; they’re being pulled through the rooms by their phones. It’s become our Cyclops eye.

If I don’t have a smartphone, can I still come?
Sure. But wear an eye patch, so you can go Cyclops like everyone else.

Why is Lego such an effective tool for getting your ideas across?
It’s like an operating system we all have wired into us. Forget English. There’s joy in finding you share a language with half of the planet.

There is an immense amount of stuff in this show. Do you consider yourself a bit of a hoarder or pack rat, perhaps?
Collecting tells you things about yourself you might never have otherwise learned. For me it was looking at death, destruction and 9/11. And other things, but those are big strokes.

To what do you attribute this condition?
Brain pathology.

Where is your chief source of goods?
Anywhere. Stuff is everywhere. Always.

How is the new novel coming along?
Short stories. Slowly.… There’s a lot of visual stuff happening right now. There’s a new theory book coming out in March called The Age of Earthquakes.

We’ve got so many of your sculptures here in Toronto. It seems as if you’re now a permanent part of our city. Anything currently in the works?
Not right now. I love Toronto. Some kids made a documentary on why Canada hates Toronto, and I refused to say a bad thing and they got mad at me. It’s great here.

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