The artist's concept proposal states: "Most people don’t believe me when I tell them that the Lower Mainland once had a Ford factory, most likely because we don’t really make anything here, but it really did once exist here, in Burnaby on the site of what is now the Station Square development. It opened in 1938 and closed in 1968. In my head I view it as a ghost of a long-gone era when making cars in the middle of an ecological quasi-utopia still seemed like a not bad idea.
I then began to research what happens to Ford factories once they’re taken down, and I was happy to discover this magical substance called fordite, after, yes, the Ford Motor Company. What is fordite? In Michigan, in ageing Rust Belt steel towns like River Rouge, Detroit and Kalamazoo, minerologists have located the sites of abandoned spray-painting booths and from them extracted chunks of layered automotive enamel paint, often up to twenty centimetres thick. These paint layers quickly inform experts what model of car the paint was used, and what year it was sprayed down. These vibrantly tinted coloured paint layers are not unlike the layers of the Grand Canyon and, as with most sedimentary forms, can be called minerals, in this case, an ‘anthropogenic,’ or man-made mineral. Fordite chunks, when broken and polished, become extraordinarily beautiful precious stones and are highly sought after in the gemological world.
For the Station Square site I created stacks of polished fordite gems that are deliberately bold to remind people in a jubilant way that we once, not even long ago, lived in a world where car colours were used as they still are in fashion, to hasten a vehicle’s shortened lifespan and to build expectation for newer and more differently coloured cars. As this seems like an unlikely dynamic to return in the near future, we may as well enjoy the accidental joy that still flows from a long gone, and not unhappy era."
Since 1991 Coupland has written thirteen novels published in most languages. He has written and performed for England’s Royal Shakespeare Company and is a columnist for The Financial Times of London. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Times, e-flux, DIS and Vice. In 2000 Coupland amplified his visual art production and has recently had two separate museum retrospectives, Everything is Anything is Anywhere is Everywhere at the Vancouver Art Gallery, The Royal Ontario Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, and Bit Rot at Rotterdam’s Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, and Munich’s Villa Stücke. In 2015 and 2016 Coupland was artist in residence in the Paris Google Cultural Institute. In May 2018 his exhibition on ecology, Vortex, opened at the Vancouver Aquarium and will be traveling globally throughout 2019-2021. In June 2018 National Portrait, an installation of over 1,000 3D-printed heads and busts, pens at the Ottawa Art Gallery. Coupland is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy, an Officer of the Order of Canada, a Officer of the Order of British Columbia, a Chevlier de l’Order des Arts et des Lettres and receiver of the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence.