Miss Chief: Shadow Catcher

3 May 2008 – 2 September 2008

Kent Monkman (in collaboration with photographer Chris Chapman)  The Emergence of a Legend, 2006

Kent Monkman (in collaboration with photographer Chris Chapman) The Emergence of a Legend, 2006

To coincide with and complement the exhibitionCaptured: Portraiture and the Permanent Collection the MacKenzie Art Gallery has invited contemporary artist Kent Monkman to present an installation that redefines the roles, assumptions and politics of traditional portraiture by relating them to the narratives of contemporary artists.

Monkman’s alter ego Miss Chief Eagle Testickle challenges the authoritative version of history by playing the starring role in “period” photographs, silent era films and romantic paintings. His paintings reference artists such as Paul Kane, Peter Rindisbacher or Cornelious Krieghoff, utilizing idealized portrayals of the North American Western landscape as a stage for portraying his version of a colonial past with mischievous role reversals. Missing narratives are explored through this re-imaging of history. As Monkman explains, “Miss Chief subverts the authority of the often flamboyant artists who created images of Aboriginal people in the nineteenth century. With a showmanship that rivals that of nineteenth century artists like George Catlin and Edward Curtis, Miss Chief challenges the subjectivity of their work by calling into question personal motivations, career ambitions and ego (“Eagle Testickle” plays on egotistical).” 

For this exhibition Miss Chief has adopted the name Shadow Catcher in reference to photographer Edward S. Curtis (1868-1952) who was often given the name Shadow Catcher, as one who “dedicated his life” to documenting the “vanishing race” - the North American Indian. The centrepiece of the MacKenzie Art Gallery exhibition is Monkman’s Theâtre de Cristal which includes a projection of his film The Group of Seven Inches which plays on the ironic reversal of colonial narratives and ethnographic painting. The installation is accompanied by two additional works. The Emergence of a Legend, a series of photographs which trace the history of Aboriginal performance culture, more specifically “Indians” performing for a European audience. The video The Taxonomy of the European Male documents his performance at Compton Verney in Warwickshire, England as part of the exhibiton The American Westcurated by Jimmie Durham and Richard William Hill in 2005. In Miss Chief: Shadow Catcher, Monkman constructs his own mythologies to contest the mythologies by which First Nations peoples in North America have been understood and portrayed in the past. 

Artist Biography: Born in St. Mary’s, Ontario, Kent Monkman is an artist of Cree ancestry who works with a variety of mediums, including painting, film/video, performance and installation. He has had solo exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Walter Phillips Gallery, and the Indian Art Centre, and has participated in various international group exhibitions including: "We come in peace..." Histories of the Americas, at the Musee d'art contemporain de Montréal, and The American West at Compton Verney in Warwickshire, England. Monkman has created site specific performances at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection and at Compton Verney, UK, and has also made super 8 mm versions of these performances that he calls "Colonial Art Space Interventions." His award-winning short film and video works have been screened at various national and international festivals, including Sundance, Berlin, and the Toronto International Film Festival. His work is represented in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Museum London, The MacKenzie Art Gallery, Woodland Cultural Centre, Indian Art Centre, and the Canada Council Art Bank. A solo exhibition of his work was mounted by the Art Gallery of Hamilton in the summer of 2007 and will tour to museums across Canada including Art Gallery of Victoria, Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, and the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Learn more about Kent Monkman by visiting his website


Kent Monkman (in collaboration with photographer Chris Chapman) 
The Emergence of a Legend, 2006 
chromogenic prints on metallic paper 
11.4 x 16.5 cm each 
Courtesy of the artist

Organized by the MacKenzie Art Gallery with support from the Canada Council of the Arts, the Saskatchewan Arts Board and the City of Regina Arts Commission.