Sunday, July 29, 2007

Douglas Coupland and The Penguins

I spent the afternoon in the Distillery District, one of my favourite places in Toronto because I was there in part to check out Douglas Coupland's exhibition of collages called The Penguins at the Monte Clark Gallery.

From the website:

Penguin Books were initially published in England in 1935, and were the first true thrust anywhere at providing quality fiction inexpensively. Founder Allen Lane wanted them sold alongside cigarettes and at the same price. Wildly and immediately successful, they became what one might call, the Oprah's Book Club of their day. To be published in Penguin format was a guarantee of sales and also carried with it a cachet of academic respectability. Seven decades later, the notion of easily purchased novels enlightening the masses and transforming the social fabric seems quaint.

Douglas Coupland's exhibition of collages, "The Penguins," examines that period in human history when the novel carried a different kind of freight than it does now, and tries to imbue moldy, dusty and yellowed paperbacks with the sense of vitality and energy that they once possessed.

I found it interesting how his collages were able to stand alone as individual pieces of art, yet in combination spelled out song lyrics and titles, as in Bizarre Love Triangle above, and Jet Boy Jet Girl below.

Note: I came across the red-hatted penguin outside Wildhagen, a retail store specializing in products made using recycled wool and biodegradable dyes. How appropriate for the day.

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