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The Noble Savage Was a Drag Queen: Hybridity and Transformation in Kent Monkman's Performance and ... - page 14 / 19

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of

the

rulers

is

also

the

worldview

of

the

ruled".26

This

is

the

challenge

faced

by

Monkman, who through his work attempts to reclaim a worldview that has been

suppressed, from both sides, by centuries of colonial rule. By incorporating elements of

Native, European, colonial, and modern cultures and traditions, the artist references the

complexities of the present hegemonic colonial landscape, where the boundaries between

"us" and "them," "then" and "now," are blurred.

Sexuality as "Divine" Intervention

In the meticulously rendered landscape paintings that preceded his performance art debut

and gave birth to Share, Monkman steps back to the very point in time when colonial

mythmaking and sexual suppression is beginning to take shape. Share debuts, literally

with a bang, in the 2001 painting Heaven and Earth, in which she sodomizes a muscular

frontiersman under a halo of celestial light that announces the mythological proportions

of the event. [image] Monkman aligns the mythologizing of the American frontier with

the epic mythology of ancient Rome and Greece.27 The light signifies the arrival of a

new dawn, in which Native peoples reclaim their sexual identities and their authority over

their own history. It also alludes to a literal coming-out, both from the shadows of

historical marginality and from the shadows of Monkman's past work, which depicted

26 Minh-ha, Trinh T. When the Moon Waxes Red: Representation, Gender and Cultural Politics. London

and New York: Routledge: 1991, p. 145. Monkman is careful to acknowledge the hegemonic colonial relationship that has oppressed Native sexuality. His work speaks to both Native and non-Native audiences.

27

Monkman, Kent. Artist notes, The Trilogy of St. Thomas, 2004.

14

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