In cities across Canada, Indigenous people comprise a disproportionately high percentage of the homeless population. Though the causes stem from a myriad of reasons, a known contributing factor is intergenerational trauma stemming from residential schools and similar displacements like the 60's Scoop and discrimination within Canada's Child Welfare System, which is still ongoing (Caryl 14). It was within this context that I started considering the sleeping bag as an object which is both a luxury commodity used by Canadians to "reconnect with nature"and a necessity for displaced and homeless First Nation peoples; an object that can connect the history and legacies of residential schools to the realities of today.
I begin by deconstructing new sleeping bags, removing their outer shells. The process is meticulous, calculated, and measured. By "skinning" these sleeping bags, I remove their protective cover, exposing the vulnerable material inside to the outside world. I take away their intended function, imposing my will to change what they are. An attempt is then made to reconstruct the baffles and overall structure of the exposed by-product, stitching it back together with cotton twine and beadwork. I attempt to reconcile the damage inflicted through what is left. It is through this process that I explore the concept and reality of reconciliation.
Caryl, Patrick. Aboriginal Homelessness in Canada: A Literature Review. Toronto: Canadian Homelessness Research Press, 2014.
For more info on the artist, click here: Aylan Couchie