Peters Projects is proud to present a body of new work by Kent Monkman entitled The Rendezvous. These works are inspired by an actual time in the history of North America, during which spring gatherings in the wilderness areas of the early to mid-nineteenth century Rocky Mountains was a period of utopia and non-violence. Beyond the frontier of European settlement, indigenous nations, mountain men and trappers assembled to trade goods for furs, and enjoy some revelry. These were often wild and boisterous events lasting for weeks that followed many months of isolation and deprivation during the winter. The revelers mated, fought, gambled danced, drank to excess, and competed in various athletic competitions and games. Monkman is inspired by style of the nineteenth century western artist, Alfred Jacob Miller, and who attended one of these events and made drawings and paintings to document what he described as a saturnalia.
During the time period of the trappers and mountain men, the frontier represented liberation from the restrictive mores of European settler civilizations; they were the minority in territories still dominated by indigenous populations. This era predated the encroachment of European settlements and the ensuing land seizure, the reserve system, and colonial policies that restricted indigenous freedoms. According to the artist in his visual communication through painting, this final chapter of freedom for the indigenous nations was a brief golden age in terms of the balance between the settler and indigenous populations.
This series of paintings features dynamic scenes of indigenous peoples, mountain men and trappers in various scenes of revelry and interaction. The compositions draw inspiration from classical paintings such as bacchanal scenes and lamentation scenes, but gender and sexual identities are deliberately ambiguous to complicate the expected reading of this historical subject matter. As the world struggles to come to terms with new transgender identities and gender variations, the artist uses the allegory of the freedom of the American frontier to situate Transgender and gender nonconformity at the edge of societal norms.
Indigenous nations across North America had acceptance, respect and even reverence for those in their societies that lived in the third or opposite gender. Kent Monkman’s alter-ego, Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, a gender bending time-traveling two spirit persona to represent the gender variance that was present in traditional indigenous cultures across North America when the settlers arrived. She embodies the flawed and playful trickster spirit to tease out the truths behind life’s painful twists and turns. She is central to my work, reversing the gaze and representing an empowered antidote to colonized sexuality.
One can view all new exclusive works by Kent Monkman at Peters Projects. His work is represented in numerous public and private collections including the National Gallery of Canada, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Museum London, The Glenbow Museum, The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, The Mackenzie Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and the Vancouver Art Gallery, and the Denver Art Museum.