June 27, 2016

Are you the redhead that Douglas Coupland is looking for?


As of Friday, Cor Klapwjk led in voting in Douglas Coupland's search for a Vincent van Gogh lookalike.

As of Friday, Cor Klapwjk led the voting in Douglas Coupland’s search for a Vincent van Gogh lookalike.

Douglas Coupland, author of Generation X, wants to give you $7,000! Provided, that is, that you prevail in his global search for a Vincent van Gogh lookalike. The chosen doppelganger will serve as the likeness for a large bronze scuplture of van Gogh.

For a large bronze sculpture commission I’m currently crowd-sourcing the planet looking for Vincent van Gogh’s closest lookalike. It could be your next door neighbour. It could be a guy at work. It could be you.

The person that Coupland selects will be flown to Vancouver (with a guest!) and 3D-scanned; that data “will become Vincent van Gogh’s likeness on the final sculpture, forever immortalizing them in bronze and on a plaque bearing their name.”  The sculpture will be the first in what he’s planned as an ongoing project, called Redheads, that he says he’d like to “trigger discussion about new relationships between science, art and globalization.”

Redheadedness is the most recent successful human mutation. Between one and two per cent of the world’s population is redheaded, and in north European and western countries, this number can rise to six per cent.

It appears in people with two copies of a recessive allele on chromosome 16 which produces an altered version of the MC1R protein. This is a complex way of saying that there is no way of telling when a gene is going to change, and what sort of characteristic it will bring about. This genetic magic is a microcosm of the way in which all life on Earth changes with time.

The Guardian’s Mark Brown reminds us that this isn’t Coupland’s first head sculpture.

Coupland has become known for his large head public art, such as his 2014 Gumhead, a fibreglass self-portrait on which he encouraged people to stick their chewing gum. It quickly became a slightly disgusting gooey mess, accumulating a quarter of a million pieces over four months.

Think you’ve got the look? Go to iamvincent.com and upload your picture. If you’re not a redhead, you can still vote for your favorite.



Julia Fleischaker is a former director of marketing and publicity at Melville House.