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

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


Hervé Youmbi

(Cameroonian, b. Central African Republic, 1973)

Wood, glass beads, thread, glue, and silicone adhesive

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


Did you know?

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


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

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