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Kent Monkman’s Dance to the Berdashe
May 6th to October 4th, 2009

Kent Monkman is one of my favorite artists.  He is critical, slyly funny, and very talented (see his profile here for examples of his beautiful paintings).  The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) acquired the painting Trappers of Men in 2006 and it has become one of their most popular works.  His newest piece is Dance to the Berdashe:
"This video installation, composed of five large projections, offers a contemporary re-interpretation of a traditional Aboriginal ritual featuring the Berdashe, that special male figure whose gender-bending behaviour and very existence astonished and appalled many explorers of the American West... Dance to the Berdashe was inspired by a canvas of the same title by the American painter George Catlin (1796-1872) depicting a dance common among the Sauk and Fox nations, of warriors dancing around a Berdashe, visibly joyful and excited. In his memoirs, published in 1844, From Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Conditions of North American Indians, Catlin speaks of this ritual unsympathetically: 'One of the most unaccountable and disgusting customs that I have ever met in the Indian country... and where I should wish that it might be extinguished before it be more fully recorded.'  The Monkmanian version of this scene, displayed on five screens in the shape of buffalo hides, shows Miss Chief Eagle Testickle dancing the role of the Berdashe."
From the website of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Imagine: The Peace Ballad of John & Yoko
April 2 to June 21, 2009

Did you know that John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s famous 1969 Bed-in for Peace was held in Suite 1742 of Montreal’s Queen Elizabeth Hotel?  The MMFA celebrates the 40th anniversary of this legendary event with Imagine: The Peace Ballad of John & Yoko, organized in collaboration with Yoko Ono.  
“The 140 works on display include drawings, unpublished photographs, videos, films, artworks and interactive materials that convey the famous couple’s message of universal peace.”  Yoko Ono is an amazing artist in her own right, and there are some of her lovely and poetic Instruction Paintings, like Painting to Hammer a Nail.”

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