What is the first thought that comes to mind when you see this photo?
Is that a wooden couch? Is it comfortable? Are those wigs on the wall?
These are all fair questions that I’ve been asked time and time again, so let me help you out. Yes, the couch is wooden and the arms are concrete. The couch weighs over 800 lbs and it took 3 men and a car jack to get in place. While sitting on this wooden beauty, Jon explained that it took 2.5 years to complete this piece. He’s the proud designer behind the couch but it was expertly crafted by local furniture genius Daniel Gruetter & concrete artisan Dave Solursh.
It’s pretty easy to conclude that this couch is not a snuggle up and watch movies type of couch, but it isn’t as uncomfortable as one would think. Jon said it best in the recently featured Toronto Life article on the photo series: “I don’t think anyone expects our couch to be comfortable, but it’s not the worst thing to recline on for 30 minutes.”
While the couch’s “uncompromising nature” may be one of the first things that jump out at you when you see this image, the wigs is what peaked my curiosity the most.
The display of 14 wigs on the wall above the couch is one of the most unique and interesting design elements I’ve ever seen above a couch. This wig installation is a representation of the residential school system in Canada that Jon’s father survived through. Jon wrote, “It superficially draws on associations of scalping with Indigenous peoples while actually highlighting how the first point of contact of indigenous children with the schools was having their heads shaved as a means of stripping them of cultural identity.”
This meaningful and strategically crafted space is an absolute gem. My photographer’s eye was immediately in love with the minimalist approach.
I was beyond impressed with the intention and execution of the pieces Jon put together considering most of my images in this series is busy and full of stuff. I’m confident in saying I’ve never photographed a couch or space with so much meaning behind it.
Jon explains the meaning behind his space the best. “I designed my space with the concept of exploring how the biomedical & modernity is often rooted in the oppression of people of colour. Because I’m a physician & a light-skinned indigenous person, I profit from these systems. So I did this as a reminder to myself to continue working towards mitigating and dismantling the problematic aspects of medical practice.”
Before I sign off, I must mention just how incredibly kind, engaged and welcoming Jon & Dillon were during this shoot. It was such a pleasure getting to know them, hearing their stories and witness their love first hand. They were even kind enough to let me do a quick portrait shoot right after.
To this day, this one of my absolute favorite couch photos. The space, the couch and the people came together so effortlessly to create one of my strongest couch images ever.