Rebecca Belmore at Pari Nadimi Gallery (254 Niagara), to April 30. 416-591-6464. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Fans anxious for an advance view of what Rebecca Belmore is bringing as Canada's rep this year to the prestigious Venice Biennale will have to wait.
In her current show at the Pari Nadimi Gallery , still photographs replace the video, installation and performance art that helped make her name in the Canadian art scene. In these photos, the aboriginal artist still discusses themes of cultural assimilation and violence against women, but she uses a different medium from the video and performance she'll take to the Biennale.
One of Belmore's inspirations is Mary March, named after the month of her kidnapping by English settlers in 1819. The show is in part fuelled by the myth that capturing and releasing Indians would resolve the antagonism between them and the settlers. The three 2.4-by 1.9-metre photos address captivity in one's own country, as do the swirls of chains hanging from the ceiling, each with a dim light bulb at the bottom.
The photos are printed on canvas, and each is divided into three panels, a reference to European Christian art. The background is the same in every image, and a worn chair surrounded by a circle of flames sits in the middle.
The woman dressed in white inside the fire circle is the only thing that changes. In one, she sits upright on the chair like she's at a high-society tea. In another, she stands beside the chair and stares into the lens as if posing for a formal portrait. And in the third, she sits on the floor, collapsed over the seat as if grief-stricken.
Whether or not this is the Belmore you like, it's worth stopping by the gallery's new location to further familiarize yourself with her work.
Later, you can say you knew her when.