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The Noble Savage Was a Drag Queen: Hybridity and Transformation in Kent Monkman's Performance and ... - page 9 / 19





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any colonial relationship is acknowledged through the complicity of the white models;

like well-behaved children they dress up for Share, play the piano, and dance. As in the

paintings, in the performance Share is a sexually charged entity, displaying the hyper-

femininity of the drag queen with an authority that is distinctly masculine. Foucault

writes that sexuality is "endowed with the greatest instrumentality: useful for the greatest

number of manoeuvres and capable of serving as a point of support, as a linchpin, for the

most varied strategies."14 In bringing Share to life, Monkman uses his own sexuality as

an instrument of power to support his goal of deconstructing imperial historical

constructs. This is a highly effective strategy that allows him to physically reclaim and

affirm the lost history, sexuality, and social status of the Two-Spirited person.

An androgynous character capable of shape-shifting and time travel, Share's role

as a trickster is fundamental to her character. As trickster, her identity is firmly rooted in

both past and present, comprising part of her hybrid identity. A central figure in Native

storytelling, the trickster is a mischievous rebel, a jester who consistently challenges

authority and is unbound by the rules of time. Owens writes, "appropriation, inversion,

and abrogation of authority are always trickster's strategies."15 In traditional trickster

fashion, Share disarms her audiences with humour while mocking and dismantling their

assumptions, in this case regarding the history of Native sexuality and its history. By

mimicking a colonial structure in the guise of trickster, Share is making it very clear that

she is undertaking a process of dismantling, of (re)telling the false stories we have been

told and (re)imagining our version of the world. Thomas King, one of Canada's master

14 15

Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality, Volume One: The Will to Knowledge. London: 1990, p. 103. Owens, 1998:26.


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