On The Occasion of The Three Sisters Accompanying xox on Her Visit to The Queen is a very long title for a series of four life-size, elaborately framed machinimagraphic portraits. Depicting four non-human women, they respond to a similar portrait series, commissioned in 1710 by Queen Anne to commemorate her meeting that year with a delegation of four Iroquois men, known as the Four Indian Kings.
“Created in 2020 before Queen Elizabeth II’s death, I imagined an alternate universe in which she’d commissioned these portraits. The four people are my avatar, xox, and her closest pals, Ó:nenhste, Osahè:ta’ and Onon’ónsera, the Haudenosaunee’s beloved personifications of Corn, Beans and Squash, also known as the Three Sisters.”
Like her male counterpart, xox holds a wampum belt. Hers, however, was designed –and also made IRL/AFK– by Skawennati and depicts xox giving the Queen a famous wampum belt, known as the Two-Row. The avatar wears a gown made in the same colours and patterns as her usual ribbon shirt. The Three Sisters each wear a gown that reflects their vegetable as well as their personality. Each wears a beaded crown which many will recognize from traditional Haudenosaunee regalia, each featuring a symbol that represents their plant as a sprout.
In researching royal portraits, Skawennati found many similar elements in them: the natural environment, architecture, fresh cut flowers, and very often, a single chair. They appear in Skawennati’s portrait series as well. Being from cyberspace, xox poses in an unnatural environment, a wall of glowing pink hexagons behind her. She stands inside a luminous structure that recalls a longhouse. This structure also appears in The Peacemaker Returns and it, too, was made IRL/AFK for the installation Teiakwanahstahsontéhrha’ | We Extend the Rafters | Nous tendons les perches. Her fresh flowers are the blossoms of the Celestial Tree seen in She Falls for Ages. Her chair is a slick, modern furniture statement. A pot with the distinctive mouth of ancient Iroquois clay pottery gleams in a brand-new material, mixing tradition with innovation.
The other three portraits include the luminous longhouse as well, sitting in front of a traditional three-sisters garden. Draperies patterned with the seeds of each special vegetable hang down, and examples of the veggies themselves are artfully placed in each composition. Where the Four Indian Kings are pictured with their clan animals, the Three Sisters each have their own insect accompanying them.