“Coyote, who invented death and singing, was the spirit who gave me my name,” Durham wrote in 1984. “As is often the case, he also gave me a gift: that I would always see whatever was dead if it were within my field of vision. . . . It became necessary to see if that was a usable gift or just a dirty trick that would drive me crazy.” Working in New York in the 1980s, Durham assumed the role of the Coyote—a trickster or scavenger figure in the lore of many North American indigenous peoples—foraging for bones and other materials to create patchwork figures. Here, he embellishes a moose skull with paint and replaces one of its horns with a metal pipe. Found in a dumpster near the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the skull is mounted on a wooden structure that at once functions as the moose’s skeleton and resembles the scaffolding encountered on city streets.
Gallery label from 2020