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The Noble Savage Was a Drag Queen: Hybridity and Transformation in Kent Monkman's Performance and ... - page 8 / 19





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of agency that maintains the colonial power structure.12 In occupying the performance art

space, Monkman demonstrates that he is aware of the limitations of speaking solely

through the language of colonialism. Through performance, Monkman is able not only to

reimagine, but to relive colonization with the roles of colonized and colonizer reversed.

He is able to utilize the physical, namely his skin colour, voice, mannerisms and

physique, to corporeally demonstrate his occupation of the hybrid and his use of this

fragmented identity as a site of cultural power. Muñoz writes that "identity practices

such as queerness and hybridity are not a priori sites of contestation but, instead, spaces

of productivity where identity's fragmentary nature is accepted."13 Monkman not only

embraces hybridity, he effectively demonstrates its many uses for renegotiating colonial

power structures in the here and now. His performance shows that there is a space where

time, space, gender, and race can be embodied as a whole. Here, he is free to adapt the

storytelling and myth-making traditions of both European and Native cultures to create a

space for himself, and Native gay and transgendered sexuality, in both the historical past

and present.

Humour, Irony, and the Trickster Character

Humour and irony are used heavily to bring audiences into the ruse of Share's

performance and to challenge the mock-innocence of the original diarists and painters

who expressed pity and childlike fascination for the Indigenous people with one hand,

while exploiting them with the other. The hegemonic power relationship that exists in

12 Bhabha, 1994. Muñoz also discusses Bhabha's concept of mimicry as a complex, "double articulation," disavowing as it affirms the dominant power structure (1999:78).

13 Muñoz, 1999:79. Muñoz affirms my contention of hybridity as a site of power for cross-cultural/cross- gender identity politics.


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