BMW, Chetro Ketl Kiva, Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, U.S.A.

Accession Number

BMW, Chetro Ketl Kiva, Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, U.S.A.

Patrick Nagatani

Artist Nationality
American (North American)

Object Creation Date
1997; printed 2001

Medium & Support
gelatin silver print on paper

6 in x 8 in (15.24 cm x 20.32 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Thomas Wilson '79 and Jill Garling '80

Subject matter
This photograph depicts a view looking down into the ruins of the ancient Puebloan structure of Chetro Ketl Kiva, in New Mexico. Piled about the site are excavating tools like shovels, picks, hammers and wheelbarrows. Standing on a tripod is a view camera, its bellows extended and directed at the curved wall to the right of the image. There, next to a ladder, a strange form is evident within the carved out breach in the wall’s façade. Almost unrecognizable, the buried form is revealed by the work’s title to be the fender of an BMW automobile, suggesting the incredulous notion that it has been encased within these walls for a millennium.

On closer inspection however, it is evident that the scene is actually a view of a model, an elaborate dioramic reproduction of Chetro Ketl Kiva. This photograph is a part of the series, the Ryoichi/Nagatani Excavations, in which the artist created a narrative surrounding a fictitious Japanese archaeologist named Ryoichi. By chance, Ryoichi discovers a mysterious set of documents that lead him to various sites of ancient cultural importance around the world. Excavating this locations in secret, Ryoichi’s team discovers buried evidence of an ancient automobile culture that inexplicably parallels our own. Nagatani presents himself as the photographer for these secret excavations, claiming his photographs are the sole evidence of the project's existence. The elaborate, outlandish story reveals Nagatani’s interest in photography’s supposed verisimilitude, and explores the intersection of documented facts and contrived fictions. 

Physical Description
This photograph depicts a view looking down into an ancient stone structure's foundation. An excavation into one of its walls is in progress, revealing the fender of a car.

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
Pueblo (Native American style)
artifacts (object genre)
excavations (sites)
scale models

4 Related Resources

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& Author Notes

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