landscape painters of the early- to mid-20th century, whose paintings mythologized the
Canadian landscape as wild and untouched by human contact. The Group of Seven are
part of the Canadian colonial establishment, and their work is considered to mark the
beginning of "Canadian art," thus obliterating the importance and existence of Native
Canadian artists and their preceding work.
In his challenge on Canada's institutional
"untouchable" artists, Monkman announces his subversive agenda. He challenges not
only the white artists who claimed Canada's landscapes as their own private discoveries,
but also the institutions that have, until very recently, chosen to exclude Native
perspectives in their galleries.
In a recent article profiling Monkman in Canadian Art
Magazine, David Liss explains the significance of choosing the McMichael Gallery and
the Group of Seven as the site of intervention for Share's debut performance:
As the premier home of the art of the Group of Seven, the McMichael is significant in the accepted canon of what constitutes Canadian identity, or
at least one version that is gatekeeper, the McMichael
readily identifiable. exercises a certain
As an institutional power over what is
and what is not. The Group's romanticized depiction of landscape as an unpopulated, undiscovered wilderness is not lost
on Monkman, relationships of
regards history and subjugation. 5
In this performance, Share arrives on the back of a white horse, resplendent in elaborate
headdress, Louis Vuitton and Hudson Bay Company accessories, and cartoonish drag-
queen heels. On her way into the gallery space, she entices two young white men dressed
in loincloths, who become the subjects of her "taxonomy of the European male."
Bringing to mind the work of Mexican mestizo performance artist Guillermo Gomez-
Peña, whose work is heavily infused with humour and a taste for the ironic, Monkman's
5 Liss, David. "Miss Chief's Return." Canadian Art Magazine. Volume 22, Number 3, Fall 2005, p. 82. This is one of the first major pieces written about Monkman's current work, which is quickly gaining popularity in the Toronto and international art scene.