Kent Monkman: A trickster with a cause crashes Canada’s 150th birthday party
Subverting the style of painting’s Old Masters and the founding narratives of Confederation, a Cree artist and his alter ego, Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, are challenging colonial national myths in a new exhibit, Robert Everett-Green writes Robert Everett-Green
TORONTO, The Globe and Mail Last updated: Saturday, Jan. 07, 2017 1:53PM EST
In Kent Monkman’s studio in west Toronto, there’s a large painting based on Robert Harris’s famous group portrait of the Fathers of Confederation. The delegates at the Charlottetown constitutional meetings of 1864 stand or sit in their accustomed places, but in the foreground, a nude figure lounges before the conference table, under the eyes of John A. Macdonald. It’s Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, Mr. Monkman’s alter ego.
“She’s trying to get a seat at the table, or she could be a hired entertainer,” said the prominent painter of Cree ancestry, whose works have been collected by major museums such as the National Gallery of Canada, the Glenbow Museum and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Miss Chief is definitely sending up the self-conscious gravity of the delegates and imposing an indigenous presence on negotiations that scarcely acknowledged the aboriginal inhabitants of the territories under discussion.
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