For Dudley

1997 / 7a*11d International Performance Art Festival, Toronto, ON

Several performances later, the evening ended with For Dudley, a piece by Rebecca Belmore that expressed what could not be said with words alone—a confusing and overwhelming rush of emotions at the tragic shooting of Dudley George at Ipperwash. Periods of silence were punctuated by repeating strains of a ’60s pop song (“Bang bang/He shot me down/Bang bang/I hit the ground/Bang bang/He shot me down/Bang bang/My baby shot me down”) as Belmore stripped a tree of leaves, branches and bark. Powerful, violent, and burning with white-hot focus, her presence galvanized the audience’s attention. Having stripped the tree naked of its skin, she used it as a pole on which to hang the shift she was wearing, creating a screen for a projected image of Dudley George. Then Belmore sat at a table with her teacup, her naked body both a metaphor for the nakedness of her emotion and a simple statement of the fact of our common humanity, what we all share—meat, blood, bone. In that moment, the performer seemed utterly unselfconscious, simply present.

Paul Couillard, 7a*11d Performance Art Festival review, 1997

Photo credit: Cheryl Rondeau / 7a*11d, Tony Pitts / Port Huron Times Herald/CP (Dudley George)