New York

Daisy Youngblood

The expression of contemporary Western culture’s relation to the dead, and to what lies beyond the world of the visible, takes other forms than those of the ethnographic fetish. Without privileged access to the cultural codes through which the fetish object acquires its meaning, our perception of it remains mediated by anthropological texts and museums, where the object is autopsied. Here, the object is petrified, patronized, estheticized, and circumscribed by another topography which alters its value. If Daisy Youngblood’s earlier clay manikins, with their stick limbs and real hair, caused some unease, it may have had less to do with content than with the ambivalent status of these objects; their formal resemblance to “true” fetishes implied an occult reading, but one divorced from a ritual context, because the necroscopic esthetic codes of the museum or gallery fetishize objects differently.

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