Uncomfortable Stories: Canada's TRC and Kent Monkman's Hanky Panky and Welcoming the Newcomers

Hoffmann-Mitscherling, Susannah
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University of Guelph

In 2019, Kent Monkman’s much-lauded Welcoming the Newcomers was unveiled at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. A year later, Monkman released Hanky Panky online, inciting a polarized reaction facilitated by social media and the press. This research reframes Monkman’s practice as a storytelling methodology, examines the public response to Hanky Panky–a major departure from the response to Welcoming the Newcomers–and unpacks the work’s controversies. I argue that although the work has proven to be controversial, it is a victory for Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation initiatives. Through Monkman’s practice, Indigenous storytelling provides new insights, and the critical engagement with works by Indigenous artists that has been sorely lacking in Canada emerges full force in response to Hanky Panky.

TRC, Truth and Reconciliation, Kent Monkman, Hanky Panky, Welcoming the Newcomers, Canada, Indigenous, Canadian art history, Indigenous visual arts