A matador with a perfect bubble butt struts in Louboutin heels, unbound hair streaming over his shoulder. He faces off against a bull loosed by Picasso on the north side of Winnipeg. His cape is a Hudson’s Bay blanket. The last matador down, a more conventional fellow, is attended to by a kneeling First Nations man. Behind the wounded modernist bull, whose testicles are the size of canteloupes, a herd of bison roam the street. Across a vacant lot, a car goes up in flames as a troupe of shamanistic buffalo dancers press toward it. A police helicopter hovers overhead, as does a seventeenth-century Mercury in winged helmet.
This is the vision of Kent Monkman, the queer Cree artist whose current exhibition, Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience, is currently on view at the Art Museum at the University of Toronto. Monkman’s alter ego, Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, presides over this monumental Trickster indictment of Eurocanadian cultural genocide against the indigenous peoples of Canada. The show is a triumph for Monkman, a coup for the Museum, and as trenchant an antidote to national smugness as we’re likely to see in 2017, the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation.