Tag: Indigenous

mistikôsiwak (Wooden Boat People): Resurgence of the People

mistikôsiwak (Wooden Boat People): Resurgence of the People

Artist: Kent Monkman (b. 1965)
Media: Acrylic paint on canvas
Date & Location: 2019, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Significance to Queer Art History

Kent Monkman is a Cree artist who works across the media of painting, photography, performance, installation and film. He is known for his critical interventions into ‘canonical’ European and American art history that highlight colonial violence (both historical and ongoing), queer sexualities, and resilience. This painting, mistikôsiwak (Wooden Boat People): Resurgence of the People, shows a reinterpretation of Washington Crossing the Delaware from 1851 by Emanuel Leutze, which is also housed in the Met. Instead of George Washington, though, it is Miss Eagle Testickle at the helm.

Monkman often includes his gender-fluid, Two-Spirit persona Miss Chief Eagle Testickle in his work. In this painting we see them adorned with rainbow earrings, flowing sheer and glossy red fabric, and Lou Boutons.

“I created Miss Chief Eagle Testickle to offer an Indigenous perspective on the European settlers and to also present a very empowered point of view of Indigenous sexuality pre-contact. We had our own traditions of gender and sexuality that didn’t fit the male/female binary. Miss Chief is a legendary being, she comes from the stars.”

Kent Monkman
Miss Chief Eagle Testickle

Resource(s):

Dr. June Scudeler (Métis) who is assistant professor in Indigenous Studies at Simon Fraser University and Issaku Inami who is an MOA Volunteer, Associate Gallery Host, and queer activist discuss Monkman’s work in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCeWhcyfYxg.

Kent Monkman’s website: https://www.kentmonkman.com/.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” Accessed 2021-11-03. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/11417.

Tim Barringer, “The Big Review: Kent Monkman at the Met,” in The Art Newspaper, 2020. Accessed 2021-11-03.
https://www.theartnewspaper.com/2020/02/06/the-big-review-kent-monkman-at-the-met

Did you meet any malagas? (book cover)

Did you meet any malagas? (book cover)

Artist: Gary Lee
Media: Sketch on paper
Date & Location: 1993, Larrakia Territory, Darwin, Australia
Where can I see this artwork?: Book cover of Did you meet any malagas?: A homosexual history of Australia’s tropical capital by Dino Hodge

Significance to Queer Art History

‘Malagas’ means ‘men.’ Dino Hodge’s Did you meet any malagas? is a collection of oral histories intended to tell a ‘gay history’ of Larrakia territory/Darwin that recognizes local, context-specific intersections of sexuality, gender, colonialism, and race. It addresses as well the objectification of ‘blackfellas’ by ‘whitefellas’ in the local gay community. Hodge writes that “it would be the late 1980s before Aboriginal gay men felt comfortable attending Darwin Gay Society Gatherings (37).”

Gary Lee was the first Indigenous person to collaborate with the Northern Territory AIDS Council, and he is a friend and collaborator to Hodge. He is Larrakia with Chinese and Filipino heritage, and Hodge writes that Lee designed a book cover that: “honoured blackfella experiences… his interracial relationship with his partner is represented by a whitefella arm reaching across his chest and the hand resting lightly above his heart. Here the whitefella presence is subordinated to a blackfella declaration of personhood (41).”

A coloured sketch of a bare-chested Indigenous man wearing a red necklace on white paper with a white man's arm wrapping around from behind to touch his chest.

Resources and Image Credits

Dino Hodge. “Faces of Queer-Aboriginality in Australia,” in Queer Objects ed. Chris Brickell and Judith Collard. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2019.

Hodge, Dino. Colouring the Rainbow: Blak Queer and Trans Perspectives: Life Stories and Essays by First Nations People of Australia. 2015.

Paul Gauguin- The Sorcerer of Hiva Oa (1902)

Paul Gauguin- The Sorcerer of Hiva Oa (1902)

Featured Artwork: The Sorcerer of Hiva Oa (Marquesan Man in the Red Cape)

Date & Location: 1902 in Hiva Oa, an isle in French Polynesia

Media: Oil painting

Significance to Queer Art History: This painting’s inspiration was drawn from Gauguin’s travels from France to the Polynesian Islands where Gauguin thought the lives and surroundings would be “untouched” by European influence and colonization. This painting depicts a māhū individual from Hiva Oa (not a man in a cape, as Gauguin describes the individual to his western standards of gender) who identifies with a third gender that can encompass both male and female roles, presentation, and even some spiritual aspects as māhū individuals were revered as healers as this person that Gauguin describes as a “sorcerer”.

Symbolism to note: The conversing fox and bird at the bottom right of the image are natural enemies with many differences. This is perhaps Gauguin’s way of portraying male and female genders “conversing” and getting along with one another to symbolize the māhū individual’s gender.

Editors Note: Gauguin’s view into the lives of the indigenous folks of Hiva Oa and the areas he visited in the Polynesian Islands may be untruthful and deemed offensive as he often exploited spiritual and cultural practices and added his own westernized European influences and concepts to his works while traveling to “un-touched” and un-colonized (the Polynesian Isles had already been colonized years before by the French) areas.

Resources & Further Reading:

Reed, Christopher. “Gender- Transcendant Homosexuality: Polynesia and North America.” In Art and Homosexuality: A History of Ideas. Oxford: University Press, 2011.

“The Men-women of the Pacific.” Tate. Accessed August 2017. http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/articles/men-women-pacific.