Kent Monkman exhibit ‘Shame and Prejudice’ returns home to Winnipeg

Jolene Banning
His exhibit Shame and Prejudice is a story of resilience that aims to highlight the many different devastating periods in time that First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people survived genocidal policies including residential schools, mass incarceration and displacement.

The exhibit, by Cree artist Kent Monkman,  has been traveling the country but has returned home to the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG).

Stephen Borys, CEO of WAG, says showcasing this exhibit is one way the gallery is working to Indigenize the space.

“By truly amplifying the voices of Indigenous artists in Canada and beyond and partnerships with the WAG’s own Indigenous advisory circle we have endeavoured to respond to the TRC’s (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) calls to action,” he said.

That’s not all the WAG has done to respond to the calls to action.

There is now Indigenous representation on staff and the board of directors

And artists are given space for their work that focuses on issues specific to their perspectives.

Like changing a history that would have Indigenous peoples erased or replaced altogether with a settler narrative.

“These are places Indigenous people have been living for thousands of years and it was really to refute these ideas that were brought by Europeans,” said Kent Monkman.

“Eurpoean modernity was about coming to a blank slate and having everybody just conveniently forget that this land belonged to somebody else.”

Although the exhibit takes a life size visceral look at Indigenous loss and pain, it also shows a lot more.

“This show, even though it tackles some dark chapters, it’s really intended to be very optimistic,” said Monkman. “To talk about the resiliency of our people to survive these different acts of genocide through the colonial project.”

The exhibit will be on display until February 2020.

And thanks to an anonymous donor, The Deposition  from Monkman’s urban rez series will now have a permanent home at the gallery.

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