Skeena Reece is Tsimshian/Gitksan and Cree/Metis based on Vancouver Island, BC. She is a performance artist and sacred clown humorist. Her practice also includes music, writing, film/video and visual art. She received the Reveal Indigenous Art Award, the Viva Award and a BC Achievement Award for Excellence in Arts. Her works have included, ‘The Sacred Clown,’ a collaborative performance between Skeena Reece and Jesse Scott created for the Medicine Project. The Sacred Clown is a Hopi tradition; the clown is a character that often says or does uncouth things to teach lessons, with resonance with Raven The Trickster and Coyote The Trickster.
“These characters were highly respected for the work they did in helping communities examine their values and beliefs, but today they are often found in institutions, no longer respected for the lessons they have to teach. Growing up hearing stories of the Raven Trickster spirit on the west coast of BC has informed Skeena’s humor. She invokes the spirit of the Trickster just to see what happens” (from: https://themedicineproject.com/skeena-reece.html).
Reece’s keynote on October 29 will also draw upon her TikTok persona @victimprincessmother, that was recently featured at a show at the Polygon Gallery: https://www.tiktok.com/@victimprincessmother?is_copy_url=1&is_from_webapp=v1
This performance series, Victimprincessmother, calls out assumptions, expectations, and stereotypes surrounding Indigenous women. The character unfolded over TikTok during the run of the exhibition.
Images: Skeena Reece, Raven: On the Colonial Fleet, 2010 (photo: Sebastien Kriete); Skeena Reece, victimprincessmother and child, 2021 and My child, 2021, photo by Rachel Topham Photography; and Skeena Reece: Entitled, 2017 (Poster of commissioned painting by Collin Elder: order here)
Reece’s work is multi-faceted and multi-dimensional and impossible to categorize. While humor has a great presence in Reece’s work, her somber, sensitive and profoundly emotional works, layered with personal and political significance, function in another emotive realm. In May 2019, the Belkin commissioned Reece to pursue a project she proposed: inviting people to be wrapped, creating the series The Medicine Bag: Your Body (2019). The documentation of the wrapping process can be seen in video works Hold Me (2018), Hold This (2018) and Vignettes (2018) will be shown alongside Touch Me (2013).
In the video below, Reece bathes Sandra Semchuk.
“The video Touch Me was my response to the curatorial intention of the 2013 exhibition Witnesses: Art and Canada’s Indian Residential Schools at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery. Imagine your voice being included in such an important group show amongst artists you’ve known and loved: Rebecca Belmore, Beau Dick and Sandra Semchuk to name a few. What an honour. What a huge responsibility. I am a second generation residential school survivor and the effects of this phenomenon go deep. This is how I approach a lot of difficult subjects. I make art in place of my voice that wavers, stutters confusedly and reaches for the words that are too big to mouth.”