THEY ARE, IN A WAY, fetishes; anyway they have the magic presence of fetishes, these burly turkeys tricked out in skins from other animals and then dressed in native costumes of one sort or another. Like voodoo dolls or icons they are formidable as objects. In short, despite—or perhaps because of—their obvious ludicrousness, they have a strange, even impressive beauty.

But the beauty is borrowed, and bent against itself. If an antipainting is a painting that tries to call into question the very possibility of paintings, these are antitotems. They’re there to deny precisely what totems are supposed to support: cultural identity, the self’s clear understanding of its own context, and the neat categories into which we like to order the world, whether via the fashion system or animal classification.

Vaisman has always had a certain antiessentialist bias, a desire to promote this disposition and

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