Totem 01/01-18 (Baga-Batcham-Alunga-Kota)

Totem 01/01-18 (Baga-Batcham-Alunga-Kota)

2018

Hervé Youmbi

(Cameroon, b. 1973)

Wood, beads, glue and silicon mastic

Overall: 188 x 53 x 38 cm (74 x 20 7/8 x 14 15/16 in.)

Purchase from the Karl B. Goldfield Trust 2018.5

Fun Fact

The towering hybrid sculpture consists of contemporary carvings of four canonical African masks.

Description

Totem 01/01-18 is a brilliant work that plays off the conventional codes of African art to present subversive arguments around issues of taxonomy, commodification, identity, and the system of value that underpins African art in the market and museums. It is a contemporary carving that combines five canonical African mask forms—Kota-Mahongwe guardian figures sit atop a Batcham mask of the Cameroon Grassfields whose back bears a Bembe Alunga mask, which surmounts a Baga d’mba headdress of Guinea/Guinea Bissau at the base—into a soaring superstructure.

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