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Kent Monkman, Petit dejeuner sur l’herbe

Kent Monkman, Petit dejeuner sur l’herbe (2014), acrylic on canvas

Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience

Glenbow Museum
Calgary AB – Jun 17-Sep 10, 2017

Kent Monkman, Death of The Virgin

Kent Monkman, Death of The Virgin (2016), acrylic on canvas

Kent Monkman, The Subjugation of Truth

Kent Monkman, The Subjugation of Truth (2016), acrylic on canvas

In 2016, when Canada’s sesquicentennial committees began to announce themselves in the form of project grants and community celebrations, many of the country’s Indigenous artists asked, What is it that this country intends to celebrate? In The Inconvenient Indian (2012), author Thomas King, who is of Cherokee ancestry, notes a “guarded record of agreed-upon events and interpretations.” For artist Kent Monkman, who is of Cree ancestry, the question required not a recognition but a response.

“Canada’s 150 years old – what does that mean for the First Peoples?” Monkman told Canadian Art. “When I thought about it, I thought it includes the worst period, because it goes all the way back to the signing of the treaties, the beginning of the reserve system, this legacy of incarceration, residential schools, sickness, the removal of children in the ’60s, missing and murdered women.”

The result is a dark and sometimes humorous exhibition consisting mostly of paintings Monkman made after touring the country’s museum collections where Canada’s Eurocentric narrative is embedded. In The Scream (2016), Mounties hold back pleading mothers as their children are taken from them by Catholic priests and nuns. In Death of a Virgin (2016), mourners gather at the bedside of a young Indigenous woman. In The Daddies (2016), Monkman’s naked cross-dressing alter ego Miss Chief Eagle Testickle entertains the “founding fathers.”

Michael Turner

Kent Monkman, The Scream

Kent Monkman, The Scream (2017), acrylic on canvas

 Mon, May 29, 2017