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The Noble Savage Was a Drag Queen: Hybridity and Transformation in Kent Monkman's Performance and ... - page 17 / 19





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present and the past. She negates the hierarchy of class, power, and wealth that has left

many Native people living as impoverished citizens in their own land. In the final

painting in the trilogy, This is Not the End of the Trail, Share buries her lover, but hope

springs up in the lingering gaze of the white priest presiding over the funeral. Again,

Monkman denies the sacredness of Christianity while alluding to a new chapter for Two-

Spirited people.

Performance as Oral Tradition, Spectacle, and Authority

In the conscious decision to take his paintings to the forum of performance, Monkman

gives a traditional voice to the story he is retelling, employing the oral tradition as

opposed to the landscape art introduced to the continent through colonization. Minh-ha

writes, "[s]/he who speaks, speaks to the tale as s/he begins telling and retelling it. S/he

does not speak about it. For, without a certain work of displacement, 'speaking about'

only partakes in the conservation of systems of binary opposition".32 Share is the s/he

who, rather than condemning the actions of her predecessors through didactic lectures or

tales, retells the tale in a way that speaks directly to Two-Spirit identities, in a way that

encompasses both their past and present, and dismantles the authority of the colonial

patriarchal ideology. Monkman's effectively re-imagines a new space where what Homi

Bhabha calls "hybridity," the culture between cultures, can exist.33 Catlin wrote that his

work "will doubtless be interesting to future ages; who will have little else left from

which to judge of the original inhabitants of this simple race of beings, who require but a

few years more of the march of civilization and death, to deprive them of all their native


Minh-ha, 1991:12.


Bhabha, 1994.


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