Performing Arts: Miss Chief Unleashed

Canadian artist brings his alter ego to the National Museum of the American Indian.
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Dance to the Berdashe, 2008, by . (Photo by Christopher Chapman)

For most, the term “Manifest Destiny” brings back memories of high school history class and doodling in the margins of a college-ruled notebook. For Canadian artist Kent Monkman, however, the term connotes a history of injustice to native people that his paintings, performance pieces, photographs, and silent films attempt to subvert. Monkman confronts this legacy using his alter ego, Miss Chief. In a series of photographs in the collection of the National Museum of the American Indian, the artist portrays Miss Chief as a vaudeville dancer and the director of Western movies in an attempt to revise our historical narrative.

On Febrauary 24, Monkman will present a new performance piece featuring Miss Chief at the National Museum of the American Indian that hopes to confront issues of blood and identity. The performance, entitled “Justice of the Piece,” was created for the museum and  will be Monkman’s first live performance in the United States. A screening of several of Monkman’s short films will follow the performance, as will a reception with the artist himself. Though several of Monkman’s works are part of the museum’s permanent collection, this performance will give visitors the opportunity to see an artist at work on his craft, as well as the chance to speak with him about his inspirations. Art aficionados and history buffs take notice – by the end of the evening, your perception could be shifted for the better.

The Emergence of a Legend, one of five digital prints on metallic paper, 2007. (Piece by Kent Monkman)

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