The Canadian Art Database

Rebecca Belmore, Bentley Spang

FADO Residency Project
March 10-16, 2003 - Tongue River (performance)
Ontario College of Art and Design

Fado is proud to announce A WAY OF MAKING, a First Nations performance art residency project curated by Reona Brass and featuring artists Bently Spang and Rebecca Belmore. Members of the public were invited to view the artists' creative process during daily Open Studio hours, 11:00 am to 1:00 pm from Tuesday, March 11 to Friday, March 14. The resulting performance took place at OCAD on Friday, March 14, 2003 at 7:30 pm. The artists were also be available from 11 am - 1 pm on Saturday, March 15 to discuss their work.

Curator Reona Brass writes of this project:

A WAY OF MAKING brings together Northern Cheyenne artist Bently Spang and Anishnabe artist Rebecca Belmore in a residency that examines how ritual in performance art functions in fashioning a new self within the cultural body. Taking up residence in a studio at OCAD, the artists will explore the boundary between what we understand as "authentic experience" and what is "merely performed" to discover how this practice functions in creating a cycle of cultural desire, resistance and fertility.

Sharing a desire to address several communities at once with their work, these artists maintain a delicate relationship with the world that surrounds and encroaches upon the world that they were raised in and return to frequently. For these artists, to walk between, negotiate and address these two worlds is simply a necessity they accept, balancing as they do between yesterday and tomorrow. Their interdisciplinary practices, flexible vehicles for engaging very different audiences in a dialogue about the reality of contemporary indigenous life, entail an ancient way of making that assists them in making this connection between the past and the future.

While primarily installation artists, both artists revert to the medium of performance art when the need arises, usually to address barriers and establish signposts of cultural change. Belmore and Spang use their performance work to aggressively, and sometimes humorously, move the viewer away from the defining frame of native people within the colonialist construct of North American society. Creating acts of political defiance and cultural determination with their performance work, Spang and Belmore deliberately subvert the classical values of traditional native art for the flux of contemporary reality. Striking a complicated balance between the aesthetic and the political, the monumental and the transitory, the works of these artists ultimately serve as crucial indicators in the rapid and continual renegotiation of contemporary indigenous identity.

Photography: Miklos Legrady

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