Documenting over thirty years of Rebecca Belmore’s remarkable, poignant and important performance career, Wordless brings together essays, inquiries and personal reflections from a community of artists, scholars, writers and Indigenous thinkers. The book also features five new photographs of Belmore’s re-presented work produced by the grunt gallery.
As Kathleen Ritter writes, “Belmore’s work addresses some of the most challenging and urgent issues of our time—injustice, racism, violence, trauma, resilience and, ultimately, hope. Her use of voice is political inasmuch as the subjectivity of an Indigenous woman is inherently political; her work an assertion of presence in the face of society’s efforts to silence and to erase… ‘The role of an artist is a worker, art-making is a job,’ she says… ‘We have the responsibility to carry the past and look towards the future.’”
About the authors
Born in Upsala, Ontario, Rebecca Belmore is a member of Lac Seul First Nation (Anishinaabe). She attended the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto and is internationally recognized for her performance and installation art. Since 1987, her multi-disciplinary work has addressed history, place, and identity through the media of sculpture, installation, video, and performance.
Belmore was Canada's official representative at the 2005 Venice Biennale, the first indigenous artist to represent Canada at the event. Her work has appeared in numerous exhibitions both nationally and internationally including two solo touring exhibitions, The Named and the Unnamed, Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver (2002); and 33 Pieces, Blackwood Gallery, University of Toronto at Mississauga (2001). Her group exhibitions include Houseguests, Art Gallery of Ontario (2001); Longing and Belonging: From the Faraway Nearby, SITE Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico (1995); Land, Spirit, Power, National Gallery of Canada (1992); and Creation or Death: We Will Win, at the Havana Biennial, Havana Cuba (1991).
Florene Belmore helped edit Gatherings Volume X (A Retrospective of the First Decade), Gatherings Volume XI (Flight Scape: A Multi-directional Collection of Indigenous Creative Works) and Gatherings Volume XII (Transformation).
Jen Budney is a writer and curator, with an MA in Anthropology from Carleton University, and a BFA from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. She has an extensive career as a writer and editor, both in Canada and internationally, and was the Artistic Director at Gallery 101, 2001-2003, She is currently the Curator at the Kamloops Art Gallery.
Wanda Nanibush is an Anishinaabe-kwe image and word warrior, curator, and community organizer from Beausoleil First Nation. She is currently a guest curator at the Art Gallery of Ontario and touring her exhibition The Fifth World. Nanibush has a master's degree in Visual Studies from the University of Toronto and has taught doctoral courses on Indigenous history and politics at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. She has published in many places including the books Women in a Globalizing World and This is an Honour Song, as well as catalogue essays on Jeff Thomas, Adrian Stimson, Rebecca Belmore and more. She has organized round-dances, candle light marches, concerts, and teach-ins as part of an Idle No More group in Toronto. She continues to work in defense of women, children, land and water.
Richard William Hill is an independent critic and curator. He teaches courses in Aboriginal art history and contemporary art and is associate editor at FUSE Magazine.
Excerpt: Wordless: The Performance Art of Rebecca Belmore (by (artist) Rebecca Belmore; edited by Florene Belmore; foreword by Glenn Alteen; contributions by Curtis Collins, Jen Budney, Wanda Nanibush, Jessica Jacobson-Konefall, Kathleen Ritter & Richard William Hill)
“Belmore’s work addresses some of the most challenging and urgent issues of our time—injustice, racism, violence, trauma, resilience and, ultimately, hope. Her use of voice is political inasmuch as the subjectivity of an Indigenous woman is inherently political; her work an assertion of presence in the face of society’s efforts to silence and to erase… ‘The role of an artist is a worker, art-making is a job,’ she says… ‘We have the responsibility to carry the past and look towards the future.’”