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Coupland’s ‘Gumhead’

The Vancouver Art Gallery is bringing a new public art feature to the Robson Square Plaza that relies on public ‘chewing’ interaction. Created by local artist, Douglas Coupland, the piece features a 7-foot tall self-portrait bust of the artist. Temporarily titled ‘gumhead,’ the artwork encourages the public to add their chewing material to the sculpture. The hope being, that in a matter of months, Coupland’s face will be completely covered with a patchwork layer of saliva infused sweet bubble cud.

The gallery has described the piece as “a gum-based, crowd-sourced, publicly interactive, social-sculpture self-portrait.” It is one of fifteen works commissioned by the VAG as part of NEXT: A Series of Artist Projects from the Pacific Rim.

The bust is being installed this week on the grassy knoll of the southeast corner of Robson plaza. The official unveiling will occur on May 31st. The bust will remain at this location until September 1st.

The gumhead will be part of the plaza’s summer theme: Urban Reef. The reef project is the latest winner in the Robson Redux design competition, a contest open to local and foreign designers for re-imagining the public space outside of the VAG, between Hornby and Howe street.

Coupland’s work may have been inspired by other public ‘gum’ works. Anyone who has visited Seattle’s Pike Place Market has probably witnessed the Market Theatre Gum Wall. The wall, located in an alley just behind the market, is a kaleidoscope of used gum that has become an Instagram staple for visitors to the Emerald City. Another public gum work can be found in Berlin, on one of the wall sections from the now dismantled Berlin Wall.

For those hoping to be a part of the project, we suggest a multicoloured, HubbaBubba style, chewing addition. It’ll standout and add a bit of flare to the standard spearmint Dentyne swabs.

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