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The Noble Savage Was a Drag Queen: Hybridity and Transformation in Kent Monkman's Performance and ... - page 18 / 19

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customs

and

character."34

Catlin

and

his

colleagues

were

convinced

that

they

were

recording

the

last

gasping

breaths

of

a

soon-to-be-extinct

race.

In

the

McMichael

performance, Share takes on the role of Catlin/colonizer, occupying the position of

authority as a means of discrediting it. As the artist in the piece, it is she who is

singularly responsible for creating the stories and images that will reinforce the power

relationship between herself and her subjects. Monkman's simple use of role reversal,

emphasized by switching references to white man and red man, savage and civilized, is a

humourous way of highlighting the arbitrary nature of racist classification. In giving his

community audiences a new history that is in opposition to the accepted version that

denigrates Native people and their customs and excludes Two Spirited people, Monkman,

like Catlin, offers a perspective that can be used as insight for future ages, as perhaps the

era of white male supremacy nears its end. The "traveling gallery" is a reference to

Catlin's traveling gallery, where his images reached mass audiences for the time. The

traveling gallery served as one of the key methods by which Catlin's mythology of the

Native people and tribes with which he came into contact was consumed. The Native

person thus became a spectacle, an object of fascination, and an "other" offered up for

public

consumption.

Share,

similarly,

will

travel

colonial

galleries

as

a

method

of

intervention on the spaces that continue to give ownership and authority of history to the

colonial worldview. Share uses the concept of spectacle to her advantage; she embraces

the idea of herself as "other," as a positive dichotomy to the oppressive identity

constructs of hetero-Christianity.

Conclusion

34

Catlin, 1884:16.

18

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