I didn't publish a year-end top 10 this year, but if I did, "court action" would be on it. Work agreements can be so nebulous in the art world--a situation often exacerbated by the predominance of oral, rather than written, contracts--that sometimes legal action is the only way to figure out what is right or wrong in an given situation. Of late, we've seen this lawyerish course of "clarification" taken by Michael Snow and AA Bronson, not to mention Rebecca Belmore.
While legal clarifications may be helpful to all parties concerned (I'm curious about the outcome of all these suits, no matter how they might end up falling) they aren't cheap. So on March 1, a fundraiser is being held for the Rebecca Belmore Defense Fund in Toronto.
More information about this fundraiser is available in my article out today in the Toronto Star. An excerpt:
Prominent Canadian artists have lined up in support of Rebecca Belmore, who is locked in a legal dispute with her former art dealer.
Douglas Coupland, Shary Boyle, Rodney Graham and others have donated works to be auctioned off at an event March 1 at Parts & Labour on Queen West. Event co-organizer Paul Bain, a Toronto lawyer, hopes it will raise $50,000 for the Rebecca Belmore Defence Fund, which is held in trust by his firm, Dickinson Wright.
Until now, the conflict between the OCAD-trained artist and local gallery owner Pari Nadimi has played out in Bay Street law offices, on Vancouver sidewalks and in national news headlines.
Belmore, who lives in Vancouver and represented Canada at the 2005 Venice Biennale, is being sued by Nadimi for breach of contract after trying to end her relationship with the gallery in 2006. Nadimi, whose Toronto gallery continues to operate at 254 Niagara St., is claiming $750,000 in damages, plus other costs. The statement of claim alleges Nadimi was negotiating nearly $1.1 million in sales connected to Belmore’s works.
The suit was brought to wider attention last September, when Belmore staged a related performance outside the Vancouver Art Gallery in which she sat cross-legged with a sign that read, “I am worth more than one million dollars to my people.”
Financially, says Bain, “it’s hard enough to be an artist in this country,” so when it comes to soured artist-dealer relationships, the challenges of meeting legal action can be significant.”
More information is available at the Star, and on the event's website.
(Image of a gavel -- favoured symbol of judges and auctioneers alike -- from Sara Marberry)
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Posted by Leah Sandals at 2:10 PM