To make the figure in this sculpture, a sleeping bag was draped to suggest the contours of a human body and then cast in clay. The thousands of empty bullet casings that surround the ceramic form become a protective barrier. “In some way,” artist Rebecca Belmore (b. 1960) has said, “the work carries an emptiness. But at the same time, because it’s a standing figure, I am hoping that the work contains some positive aspects of this idea that we need to try to deal with violence.”
The title of the work, ishkode (2021), means “fire” in Anishinaabemowinan, the language of the Objiwe people.
In addition to calling attention to seemingly unending violence, the sculpture points to the centrality and precarity of earth itself. As Bellmore has observed: “everything we use to make our lives is of the earth, no matter how far removed its lineage. We are makers, who destroy and make again.”
Photographed as Part of the 2022 Biennial at the Whitney Museum in New York City.