According to Coupland – visual artist, novelist, gen-Xer and West Vancouverite – there’s been a terrific response from the community after a callout last month for the public’s assistance with an upcoming art project.
“People have been really generous with their houses and cars,” notes Coupland. “We got Honda Civics, old Datsun B-210s. We got some dad cars like a Cutlass. Someone volunteered a hearse, which might come in handy…”
Inspired by Girlfriend in a Coma – Coupland’s 1998 novel that follows a group of close pals as they navigate teen house-wrecking parties in West Vancouver one moment to the end of the world decades later – the artist is revisiting the novel for his new Rabbit Lane art project.
The goal of the project – so named after the Rabbit Lane neighbourhood in West Vancouver where much of the book takes place and where Coupland had many friends growing up – is to create a series of large-format photos that will draw on themes and storylines from the book.
“What I want, ultimately, is to have something that is fantastically everyday, punctuated or interrupted by something extraordinary or massive. I think when the photos are done I want them to have a science-fiction feel to them – almost sort of like The Twilight Zone hits West Vancouver,” Coupland told the News in a recent interview.
Part of that callout included asking local residents to offer up their classic cars and traditional North Shore homes as props and sets for a planned photo shoot this summer.
Scores of people have offered their cars from the late ’70s through late ’90s to be used in the project, according to Coupland.
As for houses, homeowners across the North Shore have offered their residences, mostly houses built in the ’50s and ’60s that are typically one-storey or split-level, for use in the project.
“I think people really understood what we were looking for. They’ve been spot-on,” says Coupland. “Magazines are always writing about West Coast Modernism and Modernism, but there’s never really anything talking about the buildings that people actually lived in mostly.”
Coupland says he was delighted that there have been four offers from homeowners in the Rabbit Lane neighbourhood to use their houses for the upcoming photo shoot.
He’s still looking for more talent to feature alongside the vintage automobiles and bygone-era homes, however.
“One thing we need more of is volunteers to be model/actors,” says Coupland. “You don’t have to be a pro.”
Girlfriend in a Coma follows the dizzying highs and intense lows of fictional North Shore youth Richard, Karen, Wendy, Linus, Pamela and Hamilton, who Coupland’s model/actors would presumably be portraying. (The character of Karen is the novel’s titular girlfriend in a coma.)
The novel follows these characters over a 20-year period, so Coupland would ideally be looking for volunteer model/actors who are currently in high school as well as volunteers who are their parents' age, to portray the characters decades later.
An incentive for volunteer model/actors besides taking part in what will surely be a meaningful and impactful project with strong North Shore connections and plenty of global reflections?
"We will have sandwiches and juice boxes on set,” says Coupland.
The plan is to shoot the scenes in late August. The Rabbit Lane exhibition is slated to open at West Vancouver Art Museum in March 2022.
Learn more about the project on the official Rabbit Lane webpage.
Do you have a house or car you think would be appropriate? Or more importantly, would like to volunteer in the project as a model/actor or set person? Coupland invites you to send jpegs and mp4s to: email@example.com.