We had a funny Winter with little snow, much icy rain, fog and very high winds, our Spring was cold and wet. Yesterday 22 June finally warm weather and warm enough for us to take our Summer clothes out and put the Winter stuff away. Today is 24 June, Saint Jean Baptiste day in French Canada or La Fête nationale as it is called in Quebec and it is the beginning of the of the week long Canada day celebrations.
This weekend was also the opening of the Summer Show at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery, two artists are featured this year, Marlene Creates and Kent Monkman.
Creates has a 40 yr retrospective of her work in 5 parts, she describes herself as an environmental artists and lives in Portugal Cove on the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland on a 6 acres plot of wood land. Her work is about her relationship with nature and how nature reacts to her or vice versa.
The other artists is Kent Monkman who is presenting the history of Canada seen from the point of view of a First Nation artist as a response to Canada’s 150. The exhibit of paintings and sculpture is divided in IX Chapters as a story told by Miss Chief Eagle Testikcle, the alter-ego of Kent Monkman and entitled Shame and Prejudice, A story of Resilience. The first chapter starts with New France, The reign of the Beaver (1534-1763) when indigenous people lived side by side with French settlers and natives were part of the economy as partners. The Beaver is Canada’s National Animal Symbol and the pelts during the French Regime was a currency.
The other chapters of the exhibit are devoted to the colonial policies of Britain and Canadian English colonial politicos also known as the Fathers of Confederation but for this exhibit as Confederation Daddies and Bears. The exhibit has a homo erotic, S&M tone around Chapter II and the great paintings with panoramas along the lines of painter Albert Bierstadt show scenes which may be disturbing to some by knocking the stuffing out of the pomposity of those politicians and the creation of a united country, including the praying hands fashioned on those of the artist Kent Monkman and made of washable silicone to be used as a sex toy.
The other chapters are about the Indian Problem, Starvation, Forcible transfer of children, Incarceration, Residential schools, Urbanity today. All with scenes of sorrow, violence and death. However despite it all the Native population is resilient and survives.
In the artist words, if Canadians celebrate the big 150 Birthday, indigenous people cannot forget that the last 150 years have been most devastating with deliberate policies of starvation, the reserve system, legacy of incarceration, sickness and disease, permanent third world living conditions on reserve, contemporary urban disenfranchisement, violence and poverty.
So Miss Chief Eagle Testikcle is your guide in this exhibit confronting colonialism, she lives in the past, present and future, she embodies the flawed and playful trickster spirit, teasing out the truths behind false histories and cruel experiences.