MFA: “very fine people on both sides”

MFA Thesis and Exhibition by Aylan Couchie

“very fine people on both sides”
Aylan Couchie
Master of Fine Arts
Interdisciplinary Art Media and Design
OCAD University

Throughout history, monuments have been erected to act as reminders of sites, events and people. In canada, many of these commemorative markers reflect one side of history and further Indigenous erasure. This thesis supports my 2018 MFA exhibition titled “very fine people on both sides” that interrogates the distribution of understanding and multiple perspectives surrounding monuments and reconciliation. The thesis considers the historical, social, and political positioning of monuments and their relationship to canada’s engagement within the process of reconciliation. It investigates how monument interventions have been employed by Indigenous artists as a space for reclamation to acknowledge true histories. Through critical discourse analysis and case studies, this thesis investigates how “the monument” is perceived in contemporary timelines as an underpinning for further research into how the creation/prospect of new monuments proposed under the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action can be improved to better reflect Indigenous and canadian realities.

Thesis Document download here (PDF): “very fine people on both sides” – MFA Thesis by Aylan Couchie

MFA Exhibition Literature (PDF): MFA Exhibition Literature (Brochure)

Artworks (Click on each project for more information and images)

The Acknowledgement Project

Ni waamjigaadeg aki (it’s time to see the land)
Ni waamjigaadeg debwewin (it’s time to see the truth)

Land (2018)

on site intervention located in Barrie, Ontario

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Aki (2018)

sweetgrass, cedar and sage ashes, wood and acrylic


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The Emancipate Project

Emancipate (transitive verb): to free from restraint, control, or the power of another; especially: to free from bondage

“The body is a resonant chamber, a place for the articulation and amplification of many experiences,” these words written by Tahltan Nation artist Peter Morin, are applied to describe the ways in which Indigenous bodies are, in and of themselves, sites of resistance. They are bodies who’ve survived in spite of attempted and ongoing extermination and thus stand in opposition to the colonial project.

Emancipation (2018) in collaboration with Raven Davis

Film (3:45 min)


The Voices Project

counter-monuments “re-enact discourses of memory that were rejected, omitted or outright silenced by the (urban/local/national) collectivity and make virtue of what would otherwise be deemed difficult or inconvenient past.” – Natalia Krzyzanowska

#monugogy (2018)

Social media experiment and video installation


Monugogy II (2018)

Altered images recreated as postcards, postcard rack


“very fine people on both sides” installation shots – OCAD University Graduate Gallery, April 14-16, 2018