Fourteen prominent Canadian artists are part of a unique auction this week to raise funds for artist Rebecca Belmore in her continuing legal action with the Pari Nadimi Gallery. As reported in the Globe and Mail and other newspapers last year, the artist and Nadimi are involved in a breach-of-contract court action over Belmore’s departure from the gallery.
Belmore, a First Nations artist who represented Canada at the 2005 Venice Biennale, made a public statement of her feelings last September in a performance, WORTH (– Statement of Defence). For it, she sat in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery next to a sign that read “I AM WORTH MORE THAN ONE MILLION DOLLARS TO MY PEOPLE.” She scrubbed the pavement, laid out pieces from her work Wild, then wrapped them up and presented them to VAG chief curator Daina Augaitis with the declaration, “I quit!”
The March 1 Rebecca Belmore Defence Fund Auction takes place in Toronto at the Queen West restaurant Parts & Labour and is meant to help Belmore with her legal fees. Its 13 lots include works by Rodney Graham, Shary Boyle, Douglas Coupland, General Idea, Stephen Andrews and Belmore herself, with estimated values between $1,900 and $15,000. The overall goal is to raise $70,000, and Belmore will be present for the event.
In terms of the legal action itself, no court date has been set, but the discovery process proceeds this spring.