Art & Art History ETDs

Publication Date

12-1-2010

Abstract

Rebecca Belmore (Ojibwa/Anishinabe, b. 1960 in Upsala, Ontario), embraces three themes in her oeuvre: conquest, consequences and restoration.Through the mediums of performance art, installation, video and photography, Belmore confronts Indigenous issues regarding land theft, identity, gender, racism, stereotypes,memory, contested histories, and the recovery and reclamation of a decolonized self. All of these themes are sub-categories that fall under the larger theme of the consequences of conquest. The most significant component of Belmores work, however, is restoration, which embraces themes of healing, self-determination and sovereignty. Traditional art-historical methodologies can and have been used to analyze Indigenous art. This thesis proposes that Indigenous art is best examined through Native performance traditions as suggested by Courtney Elkin Mohler's theatre praxis. Mohler argues that the goal of Indigenous performance art can be achieved through (1) exposing popularly accepted racial and ethnic stereotypes as identity constructions; (2) rewriting history in a manner that repositions historically marginalized and objectified cultures as active subjects; (3) utilizing residual creative energies that transcend the normative methods for 'art making,' thereby exposing an alternative indigenous worldview; and (4) destabilizing historical 'facts' that constitute an essence of 'timelessness' and edifice of authority for neocolonial and imperialist practices. These four components are an integral part of Belmore's work. Because Belmore utilizes her own body as the primary medium, she becomes at once the text, the victim, the victor, and catapults the performance into the arena of restoration.

Language

English

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Art History

Level of Degree

Masters

Department Name

UNM Department of Art and Art History

First Advisor

Szabo, Joyce

First Committee Member (Chair)

Barnet-Sanchez, Holly

Second Committee Member

Singer, Beverly

Third Committee Member

Tsiongas, Mary

Keywords

Rebecca Belmore

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