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The Noble Savage Was a Drag Queen: Hybridity and Transformation in Kent Monkman's Performance and ... - page 15 / 19





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ambiguous homoerotic characters barely discernible under heavy Cree text. In Heaven

and Earth, Share is distinctly masculine; her femininity and persona as the artist's alter-

ego emerge as the series progresses. It is through the act of performing sexuality that

Share comes into her own existence and that the artist recognizes himself in her. The

series also begins with more ambiguities than Share's gender; this first scene could be

interpreted as an act of rape or as a complicit act. This is an interesting point, given

Foucault's notion of complicity as being a necessary component of power. Share is using

her sexuality as a site of power, and stamping her authority on land, culture, and history;

yet there is the suggestion that perhaps her partner is ready. Performance plays heavily in

the painting, as sex is performed as a function of transformation; Share's act insists on the

existence of queer Native identity on the colonial landscape.

Re-Mythologizing the West

Monkman continues to create new myths in the subsequent paintings in the series. In The

Trilogy of St. Thomas, a tragic love story unfolds between Miss Chief Share Eagle

Testickle and her Orangeman lover, the young Thomas Scott. [show image] The trilogy

uses the standard tragic love affair format to draw parallels to the complex relationship

between Native peoples and their colonizers. The first painting in the trilogy, The

Impending Storm, references Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Cole, the highly religious

Hudson River School painter, using the storm as an allegory for the "end of innocence"

and "impending doom of civilization" that are about to encroach on Native life.28 Next,

The Fourth of March references the execution of Thomas Scott by Louis Riel, a historical

event that had a significant political impact on what was to come for the Cree people of

Manitoba, Monkman's ancestors.




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