JIMMIE DURHAM — EXHIBITION
“Art must be social, not architectural, and not ‘impressive’….[My work is] always anti-pop. It seems too sad to me that capitalism can so easily and so constantly co-opt popular culture and rent to us our own degradation.” — Jimmie Durham in conversation with Achille Bonito Oliva*
JIMMIE DURHAM: AT THE CENTER OF THE WORLD—Durham’s first North American retrospective—is an immersive engagement with an artist whose work has been little seen in the United States in recent decades. In addition to his sculptures, paintings, drawings, etchings, silkscreens, artist’s books, videos, and photographs, At the Center of the World offers an opportunity to see the first iteration of Cristian Manzutto’s Not About Me (Jimmie Durham Documentation Project 2008–2016). This five-hour video features Durham talking informally about “his life, his political views, his thoughts on history and religion, and his overall philosophy of life and art.**
The title of the show echoes the words on Durham’s Anti-Flag (1992): “…[A] moveable pole cannot support the center of the world. Only trees can. Do not follow someone else’s umbilical cord.” Durham was an activist with the American Indian Movement from 1974 through 1979, and was part of the lower Manhattan art scene in the 1980s, with shows and performances at the Artists Space and Judson Memorial Church. He lived in Cuernavaca from 1987 to 1994, and has been based in Europe for the last twenty years. Currents of loss, discovery, and a great sense of humor run through Durham’s life and work, and constitute this essential exhibition.
JIMMIE DURHAM: AT THE CENTER OF THE WORLD, through May 7, 2017.
Hammer Museum, Westwood. Admission free.
*Achille Bonito Oliva, “Jimmie Durham” (2006), in Encyclopaedia of the Word: Artist Dialogues 1968–2008 (Milan: Skira, 2010), 312.
** Wall text for the video Not About Me.