In 1998, Douglas Coupland published Girlfriend in a Coma, a work of fiction that traces the lives of a group of friends from their teenage years through to middle age. Set in West Vancouver, the story centers around Karen McNeil, who falls into a coma that lasts seventeen years. When she awakens, the friends come together once again to face an impending apocalypse. The novel, which weaves deftly between literary genres, comes with a moral and a warning.
The book is set in the area of West Vancouver’s Rabbit Lane, which Coupland chose because he spent much time there growing up and he always saw it as “a place that time forgot.”
Coupland has worked with the West Vancouver Art Museum to create a series of staged photographic scenes that were inspired by his book. These photographs were created in West and North Vancouver, featuring local homes, volunteer models, and cars and clothes borrowed from the community. Girlfriend in a Coma specifically resonates with multiple generations of people who grew up or live on the North Shore. This project not only facilitates an exploration into the work of this West Vancouver artist, but also furthers the Art Museum’s commitment to showcasing local residential West Coast Modern architecture, which is swiftly disappearing.
This project, like much of Coupland’s written work, is both genre-bending and chronoclastic, exploring how time can be condensed and contracted to change our perceptions.