Linda Rae Dornan is an interdisciplinary artist creating video, performance and installation art, sound and writing. Her work explores visuals, performativity and embodied text about place, memory and being. She has won the Strathbutler Award, the Linda Joy Award, has been the recipient of many grants and has shown/screened her work across Canada, the United States, and in China and Europe. She lives in Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada.
Dornan has screened her videos and Super 8s with the Handmade Film Collective (Halifax, NS), FICFA (Moncton, NB), Super 8 Hotel (Sackville, NB), Antimatter (Victoria, BC), Silver Wave Film Festival (Fredericton, NB), OK.Quoi?! Contemporary Art Festival (Sackville, NB), 8 fest 2010 (Toronto, ON), Salt Water Bodies and Turning Tides (Winnipeg, MB), Island Media Arts Co-op (Charlottetown, PEI), Signal and Noise 2008 (Vancouver, BC), Inport 2007 (Tallinn, Estonia), MediaPackBoard 2007 (Calgary, AB), 312 Onscreen (NL) and other festivals. Her short documentary, Canfield Creek, was in “Outside the Box” a 2016 provincial film tour of the best films screened at the Silver Wave Film Festival over the past 5 years. In 2011, four of her videos accompanied Suzie LeBlanc and Symphony Nova Scotia in a performance of “Elizabeth Bishop in Words & Music” in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In 2013, her documentary, Walking with EB, was published in a CD/DVD compilation with Suzie LeBlanc’s “I am in Need of Music.” Her video score, Topophilia, a two channel projection about the Tantramar marshes, was improvisationally performed by the music group Motion Ensemble in 2012.
She has been doing performances solo and in collaborations for over 30 years, in Atlantic Canada and at La Fonderie Darling (Montréal), 7a*11d International Performance Art Festival, (Toronto), LIVE Biennale of Performance Art (Vancouver), Visualeyez Performance Art Festival, (Edmonton), Banff Centre for the Arts, Red Gate Studios (Beijing, China) and elsewhere. An essay about her performance work, written by Anne Koval, is in “More Caught in the Act; An Anthology of Performance Art by Canadian Women,” published by Artexte Editions & YYZ, Montréal/Toronto, Canada, 2016. Her walking guide, A Certain History, was published in “Ways to Wander,” a compendium of artists’ suggestions, instructions, rules & activities for walking (Footwork/Walking Artists Network, UK), 2015.
In 2017, she and Mathieu Léger organized PERFform 17, a performance art tour to nine venues in New Brunswick funded by the Department of Tourism, Heritage & Culture, NB. Similarly, PERFform 19 and PERFform21 travelled to nine venues in the province with four and five invited artists respectively. Due to Covid, PERFform 21 took place in the fall of 2020. In the summer of 2020, Dornan organized “Performance Art in New Brunswick,” a Facebook page, funded by the Department of Tourism, Heritage & Culture, NB.
Her performance art works have grown from solitary actions to durational works of many hours to multidisciplinary works of gesture, soundtracks, vocalizing, video projections and actions with props. They explore diverse ways to communicate and connect to the world around us through voice and body, listening, walking, language, place, memory and being—rooted in her life. These same interests are visible throughout her studio practice in drawings, sculptures, text works, performances and videos.
Blue Skies & Rocky Shores, her documentary about dementia and caregiving, won Best Low-Budget New Brunswick Documentary at the Silver Wave Film Festival in Fredericton, NB in 2008. For nine years, Dornan filmed her home life as a caregiver of her husband, John Asimakos, who suffered from dementia, and this documentary was the result.
Recent artist residencies have been at the New Brunswick Museum (Saint John, NB) 2019-20, Hospitalfield (Arbroath, Scotland) in May, 2018, Video Pool (Winnipeg, Manitoba) and SÍM (Reykjavík, Iceland) in 2015, and some past residencies have been at Red Gate (Beijing, China), PRIM Media Arts (Montreal, QC), and Banff Centre for the Arts (AB). Her first artist residency was in 1976 at St. Michael’s Printshop in St. Michael’s Cove, Newfoundland.
From 2005 to 2019, Dornan programmed “Or Something Like That,” an audio art radio show every week on CHMA 106.9 FM, the campus/community voice of the Tantramar marshes where she played sound works from around the world, electronica, field recordings, interviews and whatever is outside the conventional.