Untitled (Rapid City), 2007

Installation view: Atopia. Migration, Heritage and Placelessness. Works from the Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Collection
Centro Cultural Metropolitano, Quito, Ecuador, 2016. Photo: Sebastián Cruz Roldán & Santiago Pinol | TBA21

Graphite, ink, gouache and watercolor on paper and cardboard
Overall: 271 x 428 cm

Brad Kahlhamer, an artist of Indigenous American heritage who was raised in a white adoptive family in Arizona and came of age living on the Bowery in New York in the 1990s, has developed a poetics of what he calls the “third place,” an irreverent borderland located between worlds and spaces. Playing on ambiguity and a sense of in-betweenness, his work questions classifications, identities, and categories. Untitled (Rapid City) is a collection of drawings and watercolors on paper assembled on the wall into what Kahlhamer calls a “community board.” The work includes eight small sculptural pieces displayed on the floor, shaped in the form of skulls. Each drawing maps out this frontier, not only as the suture between territories, cultures, and people, but also as a narrative, processual, and autobiographical space. Different figures intermingle: spirits and ghosts, skulls and an eagle, female characters, animals, and totems from the Indigenous traditions, and elements that derive from the punk cultures of the Bowery, country songs, and the Indigenous rock music scene. 

The American bald eagle sweeps through the work. A sacred bird in many Indigenous cultures, evoked in feasts and celebrations, the bald eagle appears in these drawings in its double connotation: it is the paramount national symbol of the United States, appearing in government institutions, military insignia, and on the one-dollar bill. The name Eagle Butte displayed at the center of the work refers to a summit in South Dakota, and the eponymous city, home and the headquarters of the Cheyenne River Sioux. The work channels a layered iconography, holding the figure of the eagle in a tension between its two identities and the different historical narratives describing one country. 


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.