Wandering Headless Through Eternity

In Collaboration with Erica Damman
Cochise College, Douglas, AZ, 2007

Materials: cow hide with brand, red ribbon with text (quotes from old Arizona territorial newspapers), wax cast of the head of a Yavapai Indian (Vincent Hood), specimen jar, coyote skeleton, rock, muslin, topographic maps, crow feathers

On January 18, 1863, U.S. soldiers at Fort McLane brutally murdered the Apache Bedonkohe chief, Mangas Coloradas, 15 miles south of Pinos Altos in New Mexico Territory.  The soldiers then cut off his head and rendered the skull. 

Although our installation uses this ugly incident as its focal point, along with the belief the Apache have—that a person will travel through immortality in the physical state they were in when they died—we are more interested in the symbolic meaning of the phrase, wandering headless through eternity. To us, these words mean that as a species, collectively, we seem to wander in circles, to never learn from our past, to never have learned being human.