Waqui Totem USA (Urban Class Mark V), 2008

Photo: Courtesy of Stuart Shave / Modern Art, London and Deitch Projects, New York

289.6 x 76.2 x 63.5 cm

A sentinel‐like figure, almost as a talisman, Waqui Totem USA (Urban Class Mark V) is part of a series of sculptural works often installed alongside Brad Kahlhamer’s paintings and drawings. A totem pole, whose surface has been designed to chart the movement from life to death, Waqui Totem USA (Urban Class Mark V) elevates the image of the eagle on the top and descends to a base that ends with a stylized image of a skull. Through these constructed figures Kahlhamer returns to traditions and symbols from Indigenous American cultures, creating his own pantheon of “spiritual advisors,” entities that guard and survey the spaces in which they are present, standing as a memento for the union between a physical and a spiritual journey through this world. Transposed from an original sculpture of cardboard and pins into an exact cast in bronze, Waqui Totem USA (Urban Class Mark V) also describes a passage from something ephemeral to a permanent state.

In different Indigenous cultures, totem poles represent tutelary spirits as well as heraldic emblems of a group of people, such as a family, clan, lineage, or tribe, with the function of storytelling and commemoration, where stories are known to be read from the bottom of the pole to the top.


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

Born in Tucson, Arizona, USA, in 1956. Lives in New York and Mesa, Arizona, USA.