2014 / Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON / Performance / Sculpture

As a performance artist, Belmore possesses an unremitting control over her audience, a surprising feat given the largely improvisational, unscripted nature of her work. Throughout One thousand One hundred & eighty One, her approach was measured, her demeanour implacable. Over the course of the day, she hammered 1,181 nails into a tree stump, each nail representing one of the murdered and missing Indigenous women. Dressed in a construction vest, she worked methodically in front of the Hart House building, hammering slowly and consistently. The piece began to crescendo in the early evening: after placing the final nail, Belmore began to shout out, in an agonized but clear voice, the number. She repeated it over and over, until it began to take on some of the weight it deserves.

With her audience largely in tears, the effect was elegiac, but defiant.

Caoimhe Morgan-Feir, Top 3 of 2014: Time Travels, Canadian Art, December 2014

Photo credit: Scott Benesiinaabandan