In a body of work produced for this exhibition, Rebecca Belmore takes on the imagery of Christianity to speak of Indigenous resistance in Canada, where their cultures were forever altered by the church. Over the course of several generations, until the 1970s, churches and the government forcefully took Indigenous children from their families and placed them in boarding schools. They were forced to speak English and were often subjected to terrible physical and sexual abuse. Generations of children lost their languages and their sense of family and identity.
An angel’s wing made of cornhusks welcomes visitors into the church-like space. There on the wall is a copy of the New Testament, translated into Belmore’s family language, Anishinaabemowin, which she does not speak. In a video projection, Belmore enacts a rite of speechlessness, resistance, and compassion. The exhibition includes digital prints mounted on aluminium that represent an Indigenous Adam and Eve standing in a vacant parking lot and floating like angels in the sky.
Franco Soffiantino Gallery, Rebecca Belmore: come in cielo così in terra, 2006
Photo credit: Franco Soffiantino Gallery