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The Noble Savage Was a Drag Queen: Hybridity and Transformation in Kent Monkman's Performance and ... - page 7 / 19

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the Native that has been generated through image production and consumption. In

turning the tables and becoming the creator of the image, as opposed to the subject, Share

further confirms her position of power. While Share is still subjected to the gaze of her

audience, it is now Monkman, the Native and artist, who controls the image. In this

instance, and in other live performances I have seen by Monkman, Share is the ultimate

embodiment of Guy Debord's concept of the spectacle. Debord writes that "[t]he world at

once present and absent that the spectacle holds up to view is the world of the commodity

dominating

all

living

experience."10

By

becoming

a

commodity

producer,

Share

transforms the role of Native as victim of commodification without denying her past.

The Louis Vuitton and Hudson Bay accessories indicate that she has moved beyond her

commodification but maintains her past knowledge of this legacy, again demonstrating

the transformative power of her hybridity as a tool for agency, affirmation, and power.

Renowned Native American performance artist James Luna has said that

performance art and installation offer an opportunity like never before for Native artists

to express themselves without compromise.11 Part of the freedom that is available to

Native artists through performance is access to a continuation of oral storytelling

traditions in a modern context. Performance art as a language and a discipline allows

Native artists to speak in a language that is not the colonizer's, and is closer to traditional

Indigenous

perspectives

and

worldviews

as

opposed

to

European.

Performance,

in

Monkman's work, allows him to move beyond the colonial language of landscape

painting, which he mimics. As Homi Bhabha argues, mimicry can be a dangerous form

10 Debord, Guy. The Society of the Spectacle. Bureau of Public Secrets website: http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/debord/. October, 2005. Monkman's performance as spectacle could provide the basis for another paper, but I thought it was worth addressing briefly in the context of this paper.

11

Luna, James. "Allow Me to Introduce Myself." Canadian Theatre Review. Issue 68, Fall 1991.

7

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