Sticky Art – A Giant Human Head Covered in Thousands of Pieces of Used Chewing Gum

Canadian novelist and artist Douglas Coupland organised a colorful, albeit sticky, art project in May this year – he invited people to stick chewed up wads of gum on a seven-foot fiberglass statue of his own head.

Located on Howe Street outside Vancouver Art Gallery, the aptly named ‘Gumhead’ statue was a part of Coupland’s ‘everywhere is anywhere and anything is everything’ exhibition. By the time it was taken down on September 1, the statue was covered in gum to the last inch. And it had all melted thanks to the summer heat, resulting in a sweet sticky mess that attracted wasps and bees.

Coupland called it a total success, describing Gumhead as ‘ugly-beautiful’. “At first the added gum looked like jewels against the black,” he said. “And then the Excel chewing gum van parked beside it during the Jazz Festival and took the whole head to the next level. And then we had a heat wave and the gum started to weep. And now it has a 24-hours cloud of bees and wasps around it. It’s a dream.”


According to Coupland, the biggest surprise was the mango flavored Hubba Bubba, which provided rich, vibrant hits of yellow. He was disappointed that people didn’t seem to chew pink bubble gum anymore, and observed that there were way too many off-whites. He didn’t sound too concerned about the bees either, he just called it ‘ecological art’!


“I’ve been everywhere and I’ve never seen people interact so intimately and for such a long time as they do with Gumhead,” he added. “And people who drive past it every day like to monitor its progress. It’s eight pieces in one: a self-portrait, a still life, a landscape, social sculpture, performance art, conceptual art and time-based art. And it wants to be your friend.”


Coupland said that he planned to power-wash the statue and then transport it to Toronto, where the show will repeat in January. He’s excited to know if the gum will stick in a minus-10 environment. As for a permanent home for Gumhead, he might just put it on the roof of his house, or make a mold of the whole piece and cast it in bronze.


For a permanent chewing gum-covered art installation, check out the famous Seattle Gum Wall or the less known but equally sticky Bubble Gum Alley of San Luis Obispo.






Photos: Mike Browne

via My Modern Met

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