Handprints can be temporal, as in Rebecca’s unique performances, or material, as in the installations. Some performances have left artifacts such as a dress. Her homage to the legendary Odawa artist Daphne Odjig has left a memory as well as a document of a poetic allegory of strife and hope. Performing is a central feature in Rebecca’s work, and her audacious feminine power in Painted Road resonates with her amplified breathing and the heart-wrenching, raw humanity inspired by Daphne’s 1973 painting From Earth Flows the River of Life. The baggage of catastrophe that comes from performing outdoors was evident on this occasion. The cold and drizzle of late autumn connected with the mythological associations of the impending storm. Drama. Anticipation. With Daphne warmed inside a car and with the headlights on. Rebecca revealed a tableau vivant. Miked, and with bags of red oxide, she demonstrated an endurance that became a factor in her artifice, the weather bringing the four directions, the viewers seeing her incredible determination. For me, it was a tour de force of creative energy and inspiration, like that so eloquently penned by Paul McCartney in The Long Winding Road.
Robert Houle, Interiority as Allegory, Rebecca Belmore: Rising to the Occasion, Vancouver Art Gallery, 2008
Photo credit: Michael Belmore