Douglas Coupland
was raised in Vancouver and graduated from the sculpture studio at the Emily Carr College of Art and Design in 1984. Rounding out a multinational triad of degrees, Coupland then studied at the European Design Institute in Milan and at Hokkaido College of Art and Design in Sapporo with concentrations in Japanese Business Science and Industrial Design. Just a year later, he had his first solo sculpture show at the Vancouver Art Gallery and in 1988 began writing commentary about Generation X in Vancouver Magazine. Coupland extended the commentary to the size of a full-length book, Generation X, and coined the label itself. He has won two National Awards for Excellence in Industrial Design and has written nine other novels. Coupland splits his time between freelance commissions for the likes of New York Times and Artforum while exhibiting new sculpture internationally and designing furniture for Pure Design.

Pierre Huyghe
The work of the French artist Pierre Huyghe has been the subject of six books and has been exhibited in numerous solo exhibitions after graduating from the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts Decoratifs in 1985. In 2002, he received the prestigious Hugo Boss Prize from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and exhibited there in 2003. Huyghe had solo exhibitions at Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie in 2002 and at the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum in Amsterdam, among others. He represented France at the 2001 Venice Biennale and was included in Documenta 11, Kassel. Huyghe lives and works in Paris.

In School Spirit, Pierre Huyghe chose to collaborate with the Canadian writer Douglas Coupland, author of the best-selling book Generation X. The themes the pair develop concern the construction of characters through narrative techniques based on chance and the political dimension often present in Douglas Coupland’s work. All of these themes are also fundamental questions for Pierre Huyghe, and his exchange with Douglas Coupland is designed to be a separate, original work. A “snapshot” book, School Spirit may serve as a tool for reconnaissance and research in the form of a scenario or a notebook elaborated during the time of their sharing and wandering.

The processes of thinking supercedes all territories. It is a porous zone.The goal of this book is to achieve the meeting of two thoughts before they fix themselves within their practices, neither having dominance over the other, neither commenting on the other.

What we are looking to capture is an image before it takes form. I thought of Douglas Coupland, who makes his literary practice slide, and the imaginary that is produced through different mediums. By dispersing his thought into our daily life in diverse forms it reduces itself to none.

We no longer function by projection. What we have to share is a present. This book is an artistic and political laboratory of that present.

It is an investigation through an ensemble of situations, a work about the collective imagination and our representations.

It is a question of conscience in a postutopian world.

***

My name is Kelly Harding. I was a junior at John Glenn Secondary, Rancho Las Palmas, California. I died on my birthday, April 14, 1984, the day I turned sixteen.

I died during the afternoon gym class.

***

As my body was carted away from the building on a gurney, somehow I — or my spirit or whatever it is I am — was consigned to remain here in the high school, and I didn’t at first know why. But the situation didn’t frighten me.

***

You’d think I’d be lonely here, but no boredom is something you get when you live in linear time. Eternity isn’t linear, so therefore there’s no boredom.

***

When I visit another high school, I always read the yearbooks stored in the administrative areas there. These yearbooks give me consolation and help me learn about the world.

***

People in high school don’t know who they are, let alone know what they want to be. They’re larvae.

***

I always make a point of looking at art work in the schools I visit, both in the rooms and in the yearbooks, bad work, badly photographed in yearbooks, and also badly printed –– a set of factors which actually loan the work honesty: murky souls generating murky images.

***

I think the saddest artworks are the collages where people simply create a catalogue of the products the either have or yearn to have.

***

I’ve noticed that schools have become more violent since my death. In 1984 I don’t think a massacre would have been possible, but then who am I to say? Maybe dozens of massacres were almost about to happen but they got squelched before they occurred—somebody chickened out, or some parents found bullets and maps of the hallways in their kid’s down jacket pockets, and called the cops.