Reona Brass

Saulteaux Nation / Canada

Reona Brass is a Saulteaux performance installation artist living in Regina, Saskatchewan. Trained at the Ontario College of Art & Design, Brass has shown across Canada and in the US since 1993. Recent exhibitions include Signified: Ritual Language in First Nations Performance Art in collaboration with Bently Spang at Sâkêwêwak Artists’ Collective in Regina (2002); and, A Gathering For Her at the Art Gallery of Hamilton in Hamilton, Ontario (2002).

A performance/installation artist and feminist, Brass trained at the Ontario College of Art and the University of Regina. Her work draws upon traditional Saulteaux rituals and beliefs to address the elevation of linear thinking and homogeneity in society today. Addressing flesh as the only repository of true humanity, she negotiates emancipation of a society increasingly bereft of shame. Her work with other artists remains critical to her exploration of native feminist art practices. Brass was the First Nations officer for the Ontario Arts Council with artist Rebecca Belmore from 1996 to 1997.

A Gathering for Her by Reona Brass

FADO is proud to present the premiere of A Gathering for Her, a new performance installation by Reona Brass. This work is presented as part of FADO’s Public Spaces / Private Places series.

As a performance and installation-based artist, Reona Brass explores concepts of ritual, transgression and resistance. Through the use of various prolonged and/or repeated actions, Brass explores the construction and meaning of these concepts. In A Gathering for Her, Brass will make preparations in a room at The Native Canadian Centre to be bound into a reconstructed ‘cradleboard’, a rite of passage denied her by a broken history. Referring to the rite of binding a child too young to walk, Brass will seek knowledge and comfort as she learns to take on the attributes of patience and humility.

The development of this project was funded in part through the Performing Arts Programme of The Laidlaw Foundation.


Our own actions are what we can wish or hope from humanity.
~E. Santamaria, Deep Sleep

As a performance and installation-based artist, I am interested in how the discourse, and practice of, compassion, struggle, growth, transformation, ritual and survival relate to contemporary indigenous culture. The first in a new series of works, A Gathering for Her is based on inquiries into and reflections upon Saulteaux rites of passage for women. Specifically, this work is based upon the rite of binding a child too young to walk. I seek to develop my knowledge of this rite away from all force of habit and scars of history. My intention is to bring about the experience of self -discovery from the private sphere into the public. A Gathering for Her is both metaphor and transformation. The boiled beet root, sewing machines and mattress are all chosen for their feminine qualities and histories. The actions are both predictable and unexpected. A parallel for the cultural evolution and matriarchal values that struggle to emerge. This is a real time action across real time passing. A moment now, or an hour later, you bear witness and take part.

Reona Brass, March 2002

Public Spaces / Private Places

Public Spaces / Private Places was a 3-year long international performance art series featuring 22 projects, created by 26 artists, from Canada, the US, Europe and Asia. The series explored the elements that turn neutral ‘space’ into meaningful ‘place’ through performances that examined the degrees of intimacy, connection and interaction that mark the dividing line between public and private. The series was particularly focused on performances created for intimate audiences. Some projects featured site-specific or installational environments that invited participants into a sensory or experiential journey. Others were process-oriented, involving public intervention, intimate gestures, or actions that were, by their nature, nearly invisible. Above all, the series explored the points where identity and geography intersect to generate meaning.

Walking and Getting Rid of Something by Kirsten Forkert
Promenades by Sylvie Cotton
The Rootless Man by Iwan Wijono
Disposition by Adina Bar-On

Talking to my Horse by Archer Pechawis
A Gathering for Her by Reona Brass
Mettachine (Sequence 1) by Louise McKissick
Feu de Joie by Randy & Berenicci
Open Surgery by Oreet Ashery & Svar Simpson
Remembrance Day by Johanna Householder
Disclosure by Undo
Meridian by Marilyn Arsem
One Stitch in Time by Devora Newmark

The Addmore Session by Istvan Kantor
spoken house by Otiose
Public Web by Tagny Duff
Numb/Hum: A Subterranean Metropolitan Opera by Christine Carson
Between Us by Jerzy Onuch
Ethel: Bloodline by Louise Liliefeldt
where do I go from here? by Stefanie Marshall
Urban Disco Trailer by Jinhan Ko
Evanescent Rumour by Tony Romano

The Public Spaces / Private Places series presented 22 performance projects between 2000–2003, and was curated by Paul Couillard.

Series Purple

An ode to FADO's history, Series Purple is composed of a collection of purple fragrance materials dating back to the Roman Empire. Dense, intense, and meandering, this fragrance tells us non-linear stories.

Top Notes

huckleberry, violet

Middle Notes

cassis, lilac, heliotrope

Base Notes

orris root, purple sage, labdanum