Artist Rebecca Belmore becomes part of the show at AGO
Renowned Anishinabe artist Rebecca Belmore sports a t-shirt that states, "I am the artiist" during a walkabout at the AGO on Saturday.
Rebecca Belmore strolled through the Art Gallery of Ontario in jeans and a black t-shirt with the words “I am the artist” in white letters written on her back.
She lingered by paintings and sculptural works behind glass, occasionally passing out a white card inscribed only with her name and “Here is my work” in red letters.
“It’s to do with the idea of restoring my artist’s spirit for lack of a better word … to assert myself as an artist and a free-thinking person,” said Belmore, a renowned Anishinabe performance and visual artist who is entangled in a civil suit with a Toronto art dealer.
In 2006, Belmore tried to sever ties with Pari Nadimi, the owner of a gallery at 254 Niagara St. Belmore asked for payment for works sold and for the return of the remainder of her collection.
Nadimi in turn claimed breach of contract and is asking for $750,000 in damages as well as additional costs. In a statement of claim Nadimi alleged she was negotiating $1.1 million in sales of Belmore's art. Nadimi did not respond to a request to comment.
Saturday’s walk was one of several demonstrations or events drawing attention to or in support of Belmore.
She has also spent several hours sitting crossed legged in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery with a sign that read, “I am worth more than one million dollars to my people.”
Belmore chose the Toronto gallery to highlight the working relationships artists have with the institutions that house and showcase their work “and all the complexities of what is in the middle meaning art dealers, collectors, money, etc.” She admitted to thinking up her plan the previous day and didn’t have a hard and fast plan for how the walk would unfold.
About 45 minutes in she paused in the R. Samuel McLaughlin Gallery. “This is where my dress usually is,” said Belmore referring to a sculptural Rising to the Occasion.
Gallery guards kept a watchful eye on Belmore, her handful of supporters and a Star reporter and photographer during the first half of what was intended to be a two-hour walk.
They did not interfere, but as their presence became more obvious Belmore quickened her pace and wove between galleries and floors.
“I am running away from security,” she said with a wry smile and quiet voice.
She paused and handed out a card to a patron, before drifting into the next room.