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 S√Ęk√™w√™wak 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 Way of Making with Bently Spang & Rebecca Belmore

FADO is pleased to announce A Way of Making, a First Nations performance art residency project featuring artists Bently Spang and Rebecca Belmore, and curated by Reona Brass.

Audience is invited to view the artists’ creative process during daily open studio hours from March 11 to 14. The performance being created in this residency is entitled Tongue River, will take place on the evening of March 14. The artists will be available on March 15 to discuss their work. All events are free.

Open studio: March 11‚Äď14 @ 11:00am
Performance: March 14 @ 7:30pm
Artist discussion: March 15 @ 11:00am

Curator Reona Brass writes of this project:

A Way of Making brings together Northern Cheyenne artist Bently Spang and Anishnabe artist Rebecca Belmore in a residency that examines how ritual in performance art functions in fashioning a new self within the cultural body. Taking up residence in a studio at OCAD University, the artists will explore the boundary between what we understand as “authentic experience” and what is “merely performed” to discover how this practice functions in creating a cycle of cultural desire, resistance and fertility.

Sharing a desire to address several communities at once with their work, these artists maintain a delicate relationship with the world that surrounds and encroaches upon the world that they were raised in and return to frequently. For these artists, to walk between, negotiate and address these two worlds is simply a necessity they accept, balancing as they do between yesterday and tomorrow. Their interdisciplinary practices, flexible vehicles for engaging very different audiences in a dialogue about the reality of contemporary indigenous life, entail an ancient way of making that assists them in making this connection between the past and the future.

While primarily installation artists, both artists revert to the medium of performance art when the need arises, usually to address barriers and establish signposts of cultural change. Belmore and Spang use their performance work to aggressively, and sometimes humorously, move the viewer away from the defining frame of native people within the colonialist construct of North American society. Creating acts of political defiance and cultural determination with their performance work, Spang and Belmore deliberately subvert the classical values of traditional native art for the flux of contemporary reality. Striking a complicated balance between the aesthetic and the political, the monumental and the transitory, the works of these artists ultimately serve as crucial indicators in the rapid and continual renegotiation of contemporary indigenous identity.

© Rebecca Belmore & Bently Spang, Tongue River, 2003. Photo Miklos Legrady.

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

Performance Yellow

This fragrance opens us to the question, has the show started? It's winter, the theatre is colder than the street and the room is filled with people and all their winter smells: wet faux leather, down, too much shampoo, and beer breath. The atmosphere is a trickster. Am I late, am I early?

Top Notes

yellow mandarin, mimosa

Middle Notes

honey, chamomile, salt

Base Notes

narcissus, guaiac wood, piss, beer