Rebecca Belmore quits?
It's hard to imagine that Rebecca Belmore, a celebrated Canadian First Nations artist whose visceral responses to the post-colonial condition -- remember Fountain, her 2005 piece that was Canada's official entry to the 2005 Venice Biennale? -- would be giving up for good, but that was the message she sent earlier this week when she performed outside the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Belmore, as some know, is locked in a legal dispute with her former gallerist in Toronto, Pari Nadimi, which filed suit against her in Ontario court, after Belmore decided to seek representation elsewhere leave the gallery four years ago. The suit seeks significant financial damages -- suggested by Belmore above -- as compensation for what the gallery alleges to have invested in the development of her career.
Whether Belmore's actually quitting or not -- which would make her Vancouver performance, called "Worth," her last -- remains to be seen; but the precedent such a suit could set would shake the art world to its foundations. Artists move galleries all the time, though typically not without pain; these relationships are close, emotional things, and such moves are rarely made easily. To introduce punitive legal consequences would alter than dynamic entirely. Stay tuned.
By the by, check out the Facebook group on this issue here.