Press Release: Rebecca Belmore's Hacer Memoria

The Polygon Gallery announces large-scale commissioned sculpture by internationally acclaimed artist Rebecca Belmore

Hacer Memoria will be installed along the exterior of The Polygon Gallery

JAN. 4, 2023 (VANCOUVER, CANADA) — The Polygon Gallery, in collaboration with Burrard Arts Foundation, will unveil a large-scale commissioned sculpture by Rebecca Belmore on Jan. 14, 2023. This highly visible public artwork, titled Hacer Memoria, will be installed along the top of The Polygon Gallery’s east-facing façade, and comprises oversized blue and orange shirts made of tarpaulin. Each shirt will be emblazoned with a single letter that will together spell the word “hereafter.” The kinetic installation will interact with the natural elements: billowing with the wind, shifting with the rain, and reflecting the sun. Belmore was drawn to use industrial-grade tarpaulin by its prevalence in local urban developments on unceded Indigenous land, provisional shelters, and on Burrard Inlet wharves.

“Rebecca Belmore’s art often references wind, water, and land, and in this new work she is responding to the site of The Polygon Gallery on unceded Indigenous territories of the Burrard Inlet,” says curator Helga Pakasaar. “Facing east into the unknown, the seemingly fragile shirts suggest the absence of bodies, giving a sense of erasure and vulnerability to the passage of time. Belmore’s provocative artwork reflects on how the politics of memory impacts Indigenous lives.”

The title of the work is taken from the Pope’s penitential speech in which he recognized the importance of remembering the devastating impacts of the residential school system. Belmore co-opts his phrase “hacer memoria,” or “try to remember,” by highlighting the challenges of not forgetting. In colours that carry significance — blue for the uniforms that students wore and orange to mark the resilience of survivors — the provocative artwork offers an opportunity to acknowledge Indigenous people. Invoking the word “hereafter,” the artist places emphasis on the troubled present and unknown futures.

Hacer Memoria is accompanied by another installation in The Polygon Gallery’s stairwell, Severance. The sculpture, made of plastic mesh tarpaulin, is suggestive of black hair in a reminder of the dark history of Indian Residential Schools, in which the hair of Indigenous children was regularly shorn.

Hacer Memoria is the fifth public art commission presented in collaboration with Burrard Arts Foundation, and will be on display for six months. Past projects are: Myfanwy MacLeod’s The Butcher’s Apron (2017–2018), Kevin Schmidt’s Reckless (2018–2019), Samuel Roy-Bois’s Reward Friends, Punish Enemies (2019–2020), and Derya Akay’s Meydan (2021).

A member of Lac Seul First Nation (Anishinaabe), Rebecca Belmore is an internationally recognized multidisciplinary artist. Rooted in the political and social realities of Indigenous communities, Belmore’s works make evocative connections between bodies, land, and language. Recent solo exhibitions include Turbulent Water at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia (2021), Reservoir at the Audain Art Museum in Whistler (2019), and Facing the Monumental at Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto (2018). She has participated in international group exhibitions, including the Whitney Biennial (2022), Istanbul Biennial (2019), and documenta 14 (2017).

For over 30 years, Belmore’s remarkable performance art has been widely presented. Her sculpture Ayum-ee-aawach Oomama-mowan: Speaking to Their Mother (1991), continues to be performed, most recently in the fall of 2022, she produced a performance at Vicki Myhren Gallery at the University of Denver in response to its history. Earlier this year she took part in aabaakwad — an annual Indigenous-led gathering that examines Indigenous art practices — which was part of the programming for the 59th Venice Biennale in partnership with The Sámi Pavilion.

The Hacer Memoria opening celebration takes place on Saturday, Jan. 14 at 3pm, and will be followed by a conversation between Rebecca Belmore and curator, writer, and researcher Candice Hopkins.

Banner Image: Henri Robideau.

About The Polygon Gallery
The Polygon is one of Canada’s most acclaimed photography and media art galleries. The Gallery moved into its Governor General’s Medal-winning building in 2017 after operating as Presentation House Gallery for 40 years. The organization has presented more than 300 exhibitions and earned a reputation as one of Canada’s most adventurous public art institutions. Admission is by donation, courtesy of BMO Financial Group.

Gallery hours
Wednesday, 10am–5pm; Thursday, 10am–8pm; Friday–Sunday, 10am–5pm

101 Carrie Cates Court, North Vancouver | Unceded territories of the Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), and xwməθkwəýəm (Musqueam) Nations

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Press contact
Ines Min
604 440 0791