In Chumatlán, Veracruz, México a 4.5m high totem is carved from a single tree during a ceremony to thank it for giving its life. The head of a man and the wings of an eagle are sculpted into the cedar wood, the chiselled lines imprinting a message that will stretch 9000km from Mexico to London.
Commissioned by ORIGINS and carved by Indigenous Totonac artist Jun Tiburcio, TOTEM LATAMAT is a messenger sent by the Totonac people. "Latamat" means "life" in Tutunakú, and the totem is expressive of Totonac spiritual ideas as they relate to the environment. It emphasises how deeply our existence is interwoven with nature, calls attention to the damage being done to the seas, the land and the air, and insists that we cannot ignore this destruction any longer.
TOTEM LATAMAT is travelling to the UK by ship and will travel to important cultural hubs across the UK including London, Coventry, Milton Keynes and Manchester drawing powerful links between Indigenous experience and local heritage. The totem will finally arrive in Glasgow for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26).
Following COP26 it will be ceremonially returned to the Earth, emphasizing the cyclical and transient nature of life and art.