Couillard was born August 1, 1961 in Chatham, New Brunswick. In the 1980s, he worked as a civil servant in Ottawa before seeing a performance of Gaia, Mon Amour by Los Angeles-based artist Rachel Rosenthal, which inspired him to quit his government job and begin making art. He worked as an organizer and creator in the Canadian artist-run centre network, producing many text-based and theatrical performances before moving to Toronto in 1989.
A performance tour in Japan in 1991 influenced him to abandon spoken narrative in favour of experiential and action-based works. In 1993 he and four other Toronto artists formed the Fado collective, which eventually became the artist-run centre Fado Performance Inc., incorporated in 2001. Couillard was the Performance Art Curator of Fado from its inception until 2007, producing a number of notable international performance art series based on various formal thematics, including "Time Time Time" (1999), "Public Spaces/Private Places" (2000–2003) and "IDea" (2005–2008). He is also a founding member of the 7a*11d collective, which presents a biannual international performance art festival.
In 1995, Couillard began creating durational performance works, often lasting 24 hours or longer. His works are usually site-responsive and relational, exploring various questions related to time, space, body limitation and the relationship between performer and audience. In addition to his solo art practice, he frequently works in collaboration with other artists, most notably his partner Ed Johnson. Together they have created more than 100 works in their ongoing Duorama series, which began in 2000.
Couillard has also written various texts on performance art, and is the editor of Canadian Performance Art Legends, a series of book/DVD publications on senior Canadian performance artists.
- Linda Montano, Jennie Klein, Letters from Linda M. Montano, Routledge, 2005, p48. ISBN 0-415-33942-1
- 7a*11d Collective
- Fado Performance Inc.
- Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art database
- Neutral Ground
- Artspace Exhibition