M:ST News

Buffalo Boy, The Battle of Little Big Horny, Boris Roubakine Recital Hall, U of C, October 11, 2008

As the alter ego of Saskatoon-based performance artist Adrian Stimson, Buffalo Boy has played up the postcolonial identity of Aboriginal culture by sending up an over the top sexual parody of Buffalo Bill (Cody)’s Wild West show.

Dressed from head to toe in a crude mixture of flamboyant Western wear from a silver sequined cowboy hat to heavy rouge, fishnet stockings and traditional hides, Buffalo Boy subverts his sexuality as the one desiring. The comparison to Kent Monkman’s Princess Eagle Testickle is inevitable in concept, but their respective executions are entirely different.

Meant as an end to the character of Buffalo Boy (2004 – 2008), The Battle of Little Big Horny begins with a Procession, with six pallbearers bringing in Buffalo Boy’s coffin. An Irish Wake follows with shared shots of Bushmills along with an abridged version of James Joyce’s “The Dead” printed on the back of the funeral programme. The clustering of cultures and aesthetics does not end or explain itself as Civil war songs, disco, world techno, and June Carter play out over a video montage of suspects who may have led to the death of Buffalo Bill. From a headmistress with nipple tassles to Belle Savage (collaborator Lori Blondeau) to other characters that Buffalo Boy speaks back to in an exchange of stage to screen, the performance as a whole lacked an affect for the death of Buffalo Boy. There was neither awe or sadness as Buffalo Boy played out his part and transgressed his prairie earth. The body moved in a stiffness that did not appear as either ironic or intentional. Whether indifference was actually intended, right up to the ceremonial hammering in the nail of the coffin, the piece can only be best described as a transitional work that was neither here nor there in the life and death of Buffalo Boy.

Photo credit: Erica Brisson, 2008

Posted by Amy Fung