Aboriginal artist selected to represent Canada at 2005 Venice BiennaleLast Updated Thu, 17 Jun 2004 16:19:42 EDT
OTTAWA - Multidisciplinary artist Rebecca Belmore has been selected to represent Canada at the 2005 Venice Biennale of Visual Art, the Canada Council of the Arts announced Thursday.
The Ontario-born, Vancouver-based Belmore is an Anishinabekwe artist working in sculpture, installation, video and performance art.
The Kamloops Art Gallery and the Morris and Helen Belkin Gallery at the University of British Columbia were selected in a Canada-wide competition to represent Canadian visual art at the internationally prominent art exhibition. The two galleries proposed Belmore as a Biennale candidate.
"Rebecca Belmore has produced work of great power and grace," said Jann L.M. Bailey, of the Kamloops gallery, and Scott Watson, of the Belkin gallery, in a statement. The two will also be the curators of the Biennale exhibition.
Bailey and Watson des cribed the artist's work as demonstrating "a spare, exacting sense of form and presence. Her concerns centre on history, memory and justice."
Belmore herself isolated the themes of location and memory in her approach to making art.
"I have always had a strong interest in trying to imagine where we have been," she said.
"I am aware of the elusive nature of memory. Creating in the presence of the absent makes me a witness. I believe I am just beginning to understand my role, particularly as an artist who has inherited an indigenous history."
John Hobday, director of the Canada Council, praised the selection committee for its choice of an aboriginal artist to represent Canada on the world stage.
"In its diversity and richness, aboriginal art plays an important role in the contemporary artistic life of Canada," Hobday said. He added that supporting the creation and dissemination of aboriginal art is one of the council's priorities.
Belmore, who has exhibited across Canada and in Cuba, New Mexico and Australia, will develop her as-yet-untitled work for the Biennale over the summer and into the fall, and will complete her piece in the spring of 2005.
The Venice Biennale is the world's oldest and most prestigious international exhibition of contemporary art. In 2001, artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller won two awards at the approximately five-month-long festival for their audio-visual installation The Paradise Institute.
The 51st Venice Biennale will take place June 2005.
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