Magic Gumball Machine of Fate | Aylan Couchie | Overlay of The Land

Critical Distance is pleased to welcome back the Magical Gumball Machine of Fate, a curatorial project by local artist Catherine Heard, which we profiled last year.

Our gumball machine now contains an artist multiple by Aylan Couchie, produced as part of the curatorial project, Land is Where Your Feet Touch the Ground (#LIWYFTTG), by curator Ryan Rice. LIWYFTTG is led by Indigenous artists and curators with the intentions of exploring the lived experiences of Indigenous people in Tkaronto (Toronto) through collective mapping methods, artistic interventions, and critical examinations.

This installment of LIWYFTTG features the work of Anishinaabe artist and writer, Aylan Couchie. Overlay of the Land is the fourth edition of Couchie’s The Acknowledgement Project which seeks to address methods of erasure of Indigenous peoples histories, and contemporary realities, in what is known as Canada. Overlay of the Land takes the form of a text-based sticker that states in bold white lettering: This Land Runs on Anishinaabe Time. This statement not only reminds viewers of whose land they are on but also stands as a reminder of their responsibilities to the land and people. Toronto today is home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people, from across Turtle Island, and specifically consists of the traditional territories of many nations and people including the Anishnabeg, Wendat, Haudenosaunee, Chippewa, and Missisaugas of the Credit.

Couchie, as well as many other Indigenous scholars, activists, artists, and people, have criticized the lack of intention behind terms such as reconciliation as they are often spoken about in Canadian government and institutional settings that actively erase Indigenous presence through prioritizing colonial-focused education and settler-governing that continually violates the rights of Indigenous people. Reconciliation requires following initiatives that are led by Indigenous people, as well as actively eliminating the violence, appropriation, racism, and injustice faced by Indigenous people today. The sticker medium of Overlay of the Land allows for nearly limitless placements, and unexpected, but necessary, reminders of this message.

As you consider Couchie’s message in this work, we also encourage you to take action in the wake of the Indigenous Culture Fund being cut substantially by the Doug Ford government. Couchie has started a now wide-spreading petition against this action that we encourage you to read, sign, write to your MPP, and share widely:

It’s time that mainstream media and institutions started to embrace the idea of “reconciliation” as not saying sorry for the past, but as a way to bring Indigenous voices to the table, to listen with respect, and to amend old dialogues in order to create new paths forward. – Aylan Couchie, 2017

Detail image of artist multiples by Aylan Couchie, rolled paper with text in plastic balls, inside the Magic Gumball Machine of Fate at Critical Distance Centre for Curators. Detail image of text explaining "Overlay of the Land" and artist multiples by Aylan Couchie inside the Magic Gumball Machine of Fate at Critical Distance Centre for Curators.

About the Curator
Ryan Rice, a Mohawk of Kahnawake, Quebec received a Master of Arts degree in Curatorial Studies from the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, New York, graduated from Concordia University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and received an Associate of Fine Arts from the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico. He has worked for the past 18 years within the museum/art gallery milieu at various centers including the Iroquois Indian Museum, Indian Art Centre, Carleton University Art Gallery and the Walter Phillips Art Gallery. He has published articles in the periodicals – Canadian Art, Spirit, Fuse, Muse and Blackflash and numerous catalogs. Rice was also a co-founder and former director of the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective. His exhibitions include ANTHEM: Perspectives on Home and Native Land, Oh So Iroquois, Scout’s Honour, LORE, Hochelaga Revisited, ALTERNATION, Soul Sister: Re-imagining Kateri Tekakwitha and Counting Coup. From 2009 – 2014, he was the Chief Curator the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In August 2014, Rice was appointed Chair of Indigenous Visual Culture program at the Ontario College of Art and Design University in Toronto. He was also named 2014-15 Audain Aboriginal Curatorial Fellow at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

About the Artist
Aylan Couchie, is an Anishinaabekwe artist and writer hailing from Nipissing First Nation in Northern Ontario. Her work explores histories of the colonial/First Nations landscape, Indigenous erasure, and issues of representation and cultural appropriation. Her work has been shown internationally, and her public art installations can be found in Barrie, and Halifax International Airport. Aylan currently lives and works in Toronto, Ontario. Website Instagram @AylanX

You can learn more about the Magic Gumball Machine of Fate and keep up-to-date on the latest artist editions (and where the Machines are traveling) on Facebook. The AGO library recently acquired the editions if you want to see some of the editions in-person, especially those that are sold out! For more information about Catherine Heard and her work, check her website at

Also feel free to visit for more information about land acknowledgments, and an interactive map outlining the names, territories, languages, and more, of Indigenous people around the world.

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