Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Vancouver-based artist Rebecca Belmore, Canada's 2005 Venice representative, is being sued by her former commercial dealer, Toronto's Pari Nadimi.

According to a press release authored by Glenn Alteen, "The legal battle began over 4 years ago, when Belmore, after deciding to leave the Pari Nadimi Gallery, requested the return of her artworks, related documentation and the payment (and an accounting) for artwork sold by the dealer. These basic, legal rights are still being violated. Belmore recognizes the importance of the case for herself and others: 'If Pari Nadimi is successful in this claim against me, it would mean no artist would ever be free to choose to leave. Artists would be slaves to their galleries. This is a horrible precedent.'"

I have enormous respect for Belmore, and was very pleased when she agreed to show a new installation piece at CSA Space in September 2008. I will immediately be making a donation to Belmore's legal defense fund, and urge all of you in the readership to do likewise. Nadimi's shameful treatment of Belmore cannot be allowed to stand. Artists are not resources, like cattle herds or stands of corn, that commercial art dealers can automatically "cultivate" for a guaranteed return. Nor is it an artist's job to indemnify their dealer for the dealer's inability to sell their art, or for a general lack of business savvy. Even the suggestion of such an arrangement is repulsive to me as an art writer, photographer, gallery co-owner, collector and businessman.

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