Bowery Nation, 1985/2012

The artist´s studio, 2013, Photo: Gregory Goode

Wood, wire, hair, animal fur, rubber, feathers, nails, tacks, paint, cloth, string, Jute rope, leather, metal, pencil, bones, clay, and sage
300 × 730 × 120 cm

Bowery Nation consists of over 100 small figurative sculptures whose iconography combines Brad Kahlhamer’s Indigenous American roots with scenes from the Bowery in New York City’s Lower East Side. He has been creating the figurines since 1985, using found materials he discovered on fishing trips to the Hudson River Valley or in local workshops. For twenty-seven years, Kahlhamer continued to create and collect these dolls, before finally bringing them together in 2012 on a large table-like construction. Resembling a powwow float, a celebratory vehicle common in Indigenous ceremonies, the installation presents a myriad of elements pointedly related to Hopi people. The most prominent figure is the katsina doll, a small statuette typically carved out of wood and thought to have a reparative and curative potential. In Bowery Nation, these figures are caught up in Kahlhamer’s syncretism and become a reference to the multicultural milieu of the Bowery: the spiritual dimension of the traditional dolls is hybridized with elements that echo the environment and subcultures of New York in the 1990s. Bowery Nation invites viewers to reconsider the grand narratives that organize identities, cultures, and definitions and opens up a space where history is made up of different temporalities and ideas of land and belonging. 


Group show: Remedios
Venue: C3A Centro de Creación Contemporánea de Andalucía, Córdoba
Curator: Daniela Zyman
Exhibition 14 April 2023 -  March 2024

Brad Kahlhamer, born in Tucson, Arizona, USA, in 1956. Lives in New York and Mesa, Arizona, USA.