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The Noble Savage Was a Drag Queen: Hybridity and Transformation in Kent Monkman's Performance and ... - page 5 / 19

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Share is performed with a wink and a nudge, allowing mainstream audiences access to

the larger theme of cultural subjectivity and bias, while leaving those without specific

historical and cultural knowledge on the outside of some of the subtler messages and

references. Just as Gomez Peña's romantic Mexican stereotype "El Mariachi Liberace"

creates an exaggerated caricature as a method of subverting mainstream stereotypes,6

Monkman's Share reveals the ridiculousness and subjectivity of colonial artists who

created

mainstream

Native

mythologies

through

their

work.

Like

Gomez-Peña,

Monkman uses his hybrid, mixed-race identity to his advantage, demonstrating his

authority and power as cross-cultural navigator. Lisa Wolford writes that Gomez-Peña's

work is characterized by a type of artistic and political strategy that he describes as

"reverse

anthropology,"7

which

Monkman

also

effectively

employs.

By

virtually

travelling back in time in order to occupy the romantic landscapes and scenes that

became the source of manly noble Native stereotypes, Monkman claims them as his own

territory – a territory free of the borders of time and space, where he is the master of his

own

history,

sexuality,

and

identity.

Muñoz

writes

that

masculinity

is

"a

cultural

imperative to enact a mode of power that labours to invalidate, exclude, and extinguish

faggots, effeminacy, and queerly coated butchness."8 In the creation and performance of

Share, Monkman refutes the static and masculinized imagery of the Indian; his location in

the present/past allows him to speak from within but beyond the boundaries and confines

that have kept this image in the fixed past for over a century.

6 Wolford, Lisa "Guillermo Gomez-Peña: An Introduction" Theatre Topics. The Johns Hopkins University

Press. Volume 9, Number 1, March 1999, pp. 89-91. A further comparative examination of the Gomez- Peña and Monkman's work is an area of future research interest for me.

7

Ibid.

8

Muñoz, 1999:58.

5

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