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Only western Canadian stop of acclaimed Rebecca Belmore retrospective opens at Remai Modern
Rebecca Belmore, sister, 2010, colour inkjet on transparencies 213.4 x 365.8 cm. Courtesy of the artist. © Rebecca Belmore.

SASKATOON.- After debuting to critical and visitor acclaim at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in 2018, the ground-breaking retrospective Rebecca Belmore: Facing the Monumental, opened at Remai Modern on February 1.

“Remai Modern was conceived as a gathering place for conversation, contemplation and debate about the important issues of our time. We invite audiences to engage with the urgent themes in Belmore’s work—including Indigenous sovereignty, water and land rights, state violence and women’s lives and dignity” said Gregory Burke, Remai Modern’s Executive Director & CEO. “Facing the Monumental is a timely exhibition, and the discussions it will catalyze are of critical importance here and now in Saskatoon.”

On view in the Feature and Marquee galleries from February 1-May 5, 2019, the exhibition surveys Belmore’s more than 30-year career and includes works in sculpture, installation, photography, video and performance.

Facing the Monumental is organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario and curated by Wanda Nanibush, AGO Curator of Indigenous Art. Remai Modern’s presentation is organized by Rose Bouthillier, Curator (Exhibitions).

“Belmore’s powerful works reveal a compelling duality: her lyrical representations of human dignity, the beauty of youth, a sleeping subject, the power of water or the quieting effect of snow are all images that exist in contrast to the turmoil of our world. Her art asks us to consider where we are, and what we face in our future,” said Nanibush.

Two works with connections to Saskatoon have been added to the presentation at Remai Modern. Freeze (2006/2019), a sculpture that has been installed outdoors near Remai Modern, is a collaborative work by Belmore and Osvaldo Yero. Remai Modern’s presentation also includes video documentation of Omaa (2014), a performance Belmore did at Wanuskewin Heritage Park in Saskatoon during the symposium Stronger Than Stone: (Re)Inventing the Indigenous Monument.

A significant piece from Remai Modern’s collection, the large-scale installation blood on the snow (2002), returns to the museum from the AGO.

Freeze is dedicated to Neil Stonechild, a 17-year-old who died of exposure to extreme cold. The events surrounding Stonechild’s death were similar to other reports, spanning decades, of police picking up Indigenous people and dropping them off on the outskirts of the city instead of at law enforcement facilities. In 2003, the Government of Saskatchewan held a Commission of Inquiry into the death of Neil Stonechild. As a result, the two officers involved were terminated, despite their claims of innocence. They were never formally charged.

Freeze begins as large blocks of ice with the name STONECHILD carved inside. Over time, the ice slowly melts and disappears. Originally created in 2006, this is the first time the sculpture has been presented in Saskatoon. To support the work, Remai Modern has created live programs that give visitors the chance to discuss and learn more about the Stonechild Inquiry.

On February 5, the museum will launch Fireside With Lyndon, a new conversation series that takes place in the museum’s public atrium. No admission is required. The inaugural event tackles reconciliation and the Saskatoon Police Service in the era following the Stonechild Inquiry. Remai Modern’s Indigenous Relations Advisor Lyndon J. Linklater will be joined by Saskatoon Police Chief Troy Cooper; Angela Daigneault, Aboriginal Relations Consultant for the Saskatoon Police Service; and Darlene Brander, Chair of the Saskatoon Police Commission.

Remai Modern has created a robust live program to accompany Facing the Monumental as a whole, including performances, talks, book discussions and films that offer additional context and perspectives on Belmore’s work.

A member of Lac Seul First Nation (Anishinaabe), Rebecca Belmore is an internationally recognized multidisciplinary artist currently residing in Toronto. Rooted in the political and social realities of Indigenous communities, Belmore’s works make evocative connections among bodies, land and language.

Her exhibitions include Biinjiya'iing Onji (From Inside), documenta 14 (2017); KWE: The Work of Rebecca Belmore, Justina M. Barnicke Gallery (2011); Rebecca Belmore: Rising to the Occasion, Vancouver Art Gallery (2008); and Fountain, Venice Biennale (2005). Performances include: Facing the Monumental (2012); Victorious (2011); X (2010); Vigil (2002); Wild (2001), and Creation or Death We Will Win (1991). Belmore’s sculptures and installations include Wave Sound, Parks Canada, 2017; Trace, Canadian Museum for Human Rights (2014), and Ayum- ee-aawach Oomama-mowan: Speaking to Their Mother, (performances 1991, 1992, 1996 and 2008).

Belmore received the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts in 2013, the Hnatyshyn Visual Arts Award in 2009, the Jack and Doris Shadbolt Foundation’s VIVA Award in 2004, and Honorary Doctorates from Emily Carr (2017) and OCADU (2005). Also in 2005, she was Canada’s official representative at the Venice Biennale. In 2016, Rebecca was awarded the prestigious Gershon Iskowitz Prize by the Gershon Iskowitz Foundation in partnership with the Art Gallery of Ontario.

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