These are the many guises of Miss Chief, but all are ultimately the invention of Cree artist Kent Monkman, who created Miss Chief as his own alter ego. Emergence of a Legend documents Monkman’s assumption of the role of Miss Chief, with the assistance of makeup artist Jackie Shan, designer Izzy Camilleri and photographer Christopher Chapman. The five digital photographs in the series are chromogenic prints, printed on metallic paper and framed in gilded wood to recall the tintype processes of late 19th century portraiture.
For Monkman, both the cross-dressing aspects of his performance and the allusion to visual representations of the past are crucial. As he once explained it, “Emulating the context of the original[s] as ethnological documentation… [mine] play with power dynamics within sexuality to challenge historical assumptions of sovereignty, art, commerce, and colonialism.” These are lofty ambitions, but anyone who has encountered Miss Chief in the flesh knows that she – and Monkman – are up to the challenge.