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Rebecca Belmore

Artist 218

Rebecca Belmore Performance Art Rebecca Belmore (born 1960) is an interdisciplinary Anishinaabekwe artist who is particularly notable for her politically conscious and socially aware performances and installation work. She is Ojibwe and member of Obishikokaang (Lac Seul First Nation). Belmore currently lives in Toronto, Ontario Her work focuses on issues of place and identity, and confronts challenges for First Nations People.

Her work addresses history, voice and voicelessness, place, and identity. Her work, be it sculpture, video or photographic in nature, is performance-based. To address the politics of representation, Belmore's art strives to invert or subvert official narratives, while demonstrating a preference for the use of repetitive gesture and natural materials. Belmore's art reveals a long-standing commitment to politics and how they relate to the construction of identity and ideas of representation.

Jolene Rickard wrote in her Venice Biennale Catalogue essay on Belmore's work: "As a First Nations or Aboriginal person, Belmore's homeland is now the modern nation of Canada; yet, there is reluctance by the art world to recognize this condition as a continuous form of cultural and political exile. The inclusion of the First Nations political base is not meant to marginalize Belmore's work, but add depth to it. People think of Belmore as both Canadian and Anishinabe—l think of her as an Anishinabe living in the continuously colonial space of the Americas."

The use of color symbolism is particularly strong in the work of Belmore and she often uses the color red to signify pain. Furthermore, red usually has the association of blood spilled in the literal physical abuse of aboriginal people. Some works show people bound in red and white fabric in very awkward and difficult-to-maintain positions. Belmore uses these strong colors alongside certain aspects of beauty to capture the viewer's attention. On closer inspection, she reveals that trauma is at the core of her practice but retains too strong belief in the healing power of aesthetic harmony. She insists upon emphasizing an indigenous viewpoint, which, she argues, is “too often dismissed as being trivial.” Her characteristic way of drawing attention to that trivializing tendency is to find a resonant dramatic gesture.

When asked What her relationship is to politics in her work Rebecca Belmore answered, “Faye Heavyshield once wrote, as an artist statement back in the late 80's, for a catalogue in which we were both included: NATIVE WOMAN ARTIST or was it WOMAN NATIVE ARTIST for sure it was not ARTIST WOMAN NATIVE. She may have added, “What else is there to say?” It still stands to this day, for me anyway.”

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