A visual artist, performer, poet, essayist, and activist, Jimmie Durham has for more than 45 years explored the potential of art to question ingrained cultural belief systems. Durham has consistently made work that examines the notion of citizenship, the interface between art and activism, and the role of art and artists in society.
This work belongs to a series produced for his 2015 solo show Venice: Objects, Work and Tourism at the Fondazione Querini Stampalia in Venice. After receiving the invitation in 2011, Durham began gathering stories by talking to workers in and around the city—boatbuilders, glassblowers, goldbeaters, and woodcarvers as well as people who work in restaurants and various administrative positions. This process led to new works for the show formed from unexpected combinations: collected broken glass collected paired with brightly colored paint; 300-year-old Venetian bricks posed against elements from the city’s industry and commerce. Intended by the artist as vehicles for dialogue, these pieces address a complex melding of ideas, including tourism, labor, the social landscape and history of Venice, and the human-made object.
Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World, the artist’s first US retrospective, is currently on view at the Walker and includes the tour venues the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Remai Modern, Saskatoon. Durham’s work has been widely exhibited, including at the Museum of Modern Art, Antwerp; Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Roma; Serpentine Gallery, London; dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel; the 55th Venice Biennele; the 13th Istanbul Biennial; and the Whitney Biennial, New York (2014). Born in the United States, Durham is based in Berlin and Naples.