A Stone from Metternich’s House in Bohemia, 1996, production shot for action in Der Verführer und der steinerne Gast (The Libertine and the Stone Guest). Installation view, Wittgenstein House, Vienna. Photograph: Marco Fedele di Catrano. Courtesy the artist and M HKA, Antwerp
My work might be considered ‘interventionist’ because it works against the two foundations of the European tradition: belief and architecture. My work is against the connection of art to architecture, to the ‘statue’, to monumentality. I want it to be investigative, and therefore not ‘impressive’, not believable.1
Those of us who have been taught to never write ‘not’ and always use ‘and’ instead of ‘but’ might find this short statement by Jimmie Durham apprehensive or even negative. In fact it is profoundly affirmative. Why should we ‘believe’ when we can strive for knowledge through action and reflection? Why should we ‘build’ when there are more flexible and responsive ways to be in the world?
But I’m getting ahead of myself. In 1951 Martin Heidegger, who repeatedly spoke in favour of belief and architecture, wrote: ‘Most thought-provoking is that we are still not thinking.’2 In Heidegger’s text this becomes a stepping stone for interesting speculations about the future and cyclical time, but it immediately leads to other questions. Who are ‘we’? Western civilisation? The Germans? Philosophers who don’t wish to apologise for what they did before the War? And can I avoid identification with this crowd despite my enjoyment of Heidegger’s insistence on thinking about thinking?
Precise and necessary words wear out much too fast when they are taken over by policymakers, managers and communication officers. The art world is no exception. In the last year or so I have felt a bit queasy each time I’ve wanted to apply the notion of ‘thinking’ to artists and their work. I couldn’t help remembering that our name for this beautiful activity risks encountering the same fate as ‘knowledgeproduction’, namely to be loved to pieces by an increasingly self-conscious industry of practise-based fine arts PhD programmes. But I wouldn’t be able to speak of Durham’s 45 years of work as an artist and writer and activist and educator if I had to avoid this word for fear of being too much ‘of the moment’. Durham doesn’t trade in received wisdom; his next move can never be predicted. Nor does he make a fetish of what is to come. In his essays and interviews and lectures he has repeatedly defended the intellectual fundaments of art-making. For him intellectuality is ‘whatever you are thinking about’.3 And nothing seems to prevent Durham from thinking right now about the things he needs to know to be able to move on.
If the negative mode must sometimes be used to speak of Durham, it is to open our eyes for what we will not find in his art if we look for what is not there. He is not an American artist, not an Indian artist, not a Cherokee artist. Such categorising is simply not helpful in his case. He is not an artist who makes statements or elaborates a language, perhaps because he is also a writer. He is not an artist whose work can be systematised or summarised.
I brought up Heidegger not only because of his stance on thinking but also because he illustrates the European tendency to ascribe our own shortcomings to everyone. We have so thoroughly monopolised the ‘we’ that we don’t even notice when others are ahead of us. ‘Most thought-provoking is that we are still not thinking’ makes sense in Europe after World War II, or, more generally, after the European takeover of most of the rest of the world. But those who were, for instance, subjected to colonial rule could never allow themselves the luxury of mystifying thinking to the point of making Heidegger’s phrase appear plausible.
Born in 1940 in (or, as he says, ‘under’) the State of Arkansas, Durham left school at sixteen and joined the US Navy. In his mid-twenties, in Texas, he emerged as an artist and poet. In 1969 he moved to Geneva, where he enrolled in the École des Beaux-Arts. In 1973, the year of the occupation of the symbolic site of Wounded Knee, where a massacre of Indians was perpetrated by the US Army in 1890, Durham moved back across the Atlantic. He became a political organiser with the American Indian Movement. He also became Director of the International Indian Treaty Council and its representative to the United Nations. At the end of the 1970s the American Indian Movement disintegrated, and Durham turned his attention to art again, exhibiting in New York and publishing numerous essays. Many of these were collected in the anthology A Certain Lack of Coherence, which appeared in 1993.4 He was based in Cuernavaca, Mexico between 1987 and 1994, when he moved back to Europe.5 Since then Durham and his partner, the artist Maria Thereza Alves, have lived in Brussels, Marseille, Berlin and Rome. He has travelled and exhibited extensively. He has also continued to write and is a sought-after teacher and lecturer.
But these are not the right beginnings for an essay about Jimmie Durham. He can be described as a ‘sculptor’, if we accept that a sculptor today uses all the components of ‘visual art’: object, image, word and action. Durham may nail or glue or paint the image and the word onto the object, or he may make his objects or images in front of an audience. His art turns viewers into participants by being both seductively light and dangerously unknowable. His writing combines the opinionated with the seemingly frivolous. It is integrated into the artworks as titles, accompanying legends, signage or screenplays, and in many other ways.
Durham has told me that asking questions is considered rude in American Indian culture.6 This might be seen as a specificity that attentive outsiders should learn to grasp, however quaint they find it. One of the fundaments of Heidegger’s ‘we’, and its predecessors all the way back to Socrates’s ‘talk shows’, is our conviction that asking questions is polite (because otherwise we would only talk about ourselves); that knowledge, and indeed thinking, would not be possible without questioning; and that the ‘quality’ of the question matters more than the results it helps us achieve. A contradictory and powerful set of beliefs. But Durham’s no-questions-asked policy is more than an inherited cultural convention. It is a conscious choice, an epistemic tool. The direct question can be seen as a crude method of knowledge-production. It only gives us what we have asked for. It is also intrinsically intrusive and violent. Perhaps we should remind ourselves that the goal of the Inquisition was not to find out the truth but to produce confessions. Surely we would do much better to observe the world around us actively and listen carefully to what others choose to tell us. A more suitable beginning of my essay might have been this quote from Durham:
I don’t want to consciously put things in my work that are from my background. But I don’t want to consciously take them out either. I just want to be an intellectual; and I happen to be a Cherokee. But it doesn’t mean that you are a different kind of intellectual, and I want my artwork to be an intellectual project. I don’t see it as an instinctual or an intuitive project, but completely intellectual. I want to think about art. I want art to be a part of humanity’s thinking process, not humanity’s ‘feeling’ process. We already have enough emotions, enough feelings, but we don’t have enough thoughts.7
Durham says he is against art’s connection to monumentality. But his own oeuvre doesn’t necessarily negate the monumental, although contingency has always been important to him. For years he accepted almost every invitation to exhibit or take part in workshops or lectures, partly out of necessity but also partly by choice. Many of his works are made to appear ‘thrown together’ from whatever materials were available. This has allowed him to perfect his own art of the possible, based on unprejudiced attentiveness to his immediate surroundings, wherever they might be.
Contingency is a visible feature not least in the works that mark his second transfer to Europe in the early 1990s. They have the wit, the economy and the grandeur from within to challenge Durham’s own understanding of the monumental as an imposition on people by an overbearing state. His use of wood, which has featured prominently in his work since the 1960s, is significant in this context. He has stressed how important the forest has been to him, the formerly vast woodlands that once formed a gradual transition between the northern and southern climate zones of the North American continent:
I have lived in the city most of my life, so that now I often think I’ve lived in the city all of my life, even though I am originally from the forest and have acute memories of those emerald-and-tortoise-shell days. It is as though I’ve always lived in both places, sylvan and civil; perhaps the Wall has actually contributed to the unity of my duality — when I visit the Wall am I not seeing the trees under and around which I once fearfully and celebratorily walked? 8
‘Celebratorily’ is a word we encounter now and then in Durham’s texts, often used to critique the triumphalism of the oppressive city/state. That is the subject of Gilgamesh, a sculpture from 1993 for which Durham also wrote the text quoted here, titled ‘Gilgamesh and Me: The True Story of the Wall’. The sculpture stages the meeting of an unpainted wooden door, a sturdy PVC pipe and an axe. The door is penetrated by the pipe and assaulted by the axe, whose blade is half-buried into its otherwise undented surface. A self-sufficient monument to itself, but also a re-presentation of the ancient Gilgamesh epic. The text focuses on the ‘wild man’, the necessary other for the king who ‘cut down the forest to build the city Wall’.9 Enkiddu Wildemann, Durham’s Akkadian-German alter ego, shows his counterpart Gilgamesh ‘that his Wall must necessarily be considered as a door also’.10 Thence the shape of the accompanying artwork.
Durham’s views on architecture and belief are, I think, tightly bound to his reading of history as a pattern of movements that must be continuously reinterpreted. He has not given up hope that we might learn something if we call up those movements of people from the past. Why else would he tear a sheet from an old historical atlas, showing the complex population flows in Europe from the fifth to the ninth centuries, and pin it to the wall of his studio in Rome? The so-called Migration Period left few built monuments, but it created the patterns (the ethnic make-up, the double-bind of promised liberation and social oppression by state and church) that we consider to be European ‘normality’. The apparently haphazard movements of Germanic and Slavic and Finno- Ugrian and Turkic tribes was prompted by contingencies that have mostly been forgotten, and they created new contingencies that still shape events throughout the continent but are nevertheless poorly understood. This map was part of Durham and Alves’s installation Museum of European Normality, first shown at Manifesta 7 in Trento in 2008.
Paradigm for an Arch is an assortment of seemingly discarded objects laid out to form a Romanesque arch. It was created for Durham’s solo exhibition ‘Architexture' at Galerie Micheline Szwajcer in Antwerp in 1994, and prefigures the many versions of Durham’s Arc de Triomphe for Personal Use (1996—2007). They are lightweight structures in wood or metal that we can put up and pass through wherever and whenever celebration is called for, but they also subvert the function of the triumphal arch, personalising and democratising a concept of glory usually reserved for the state. These portable monuments might also be read as a therapeutic attack on the overbearing superego, if they weren’t so ‘celebratorily’ ironic. The Paradigm instead wants to cure us of our awe for the glorious arch by laying it down on the floor and by reminding us that we once had names for the various segments that constitute it. The words are the true monuments. Durham writes them down, in French and Flemish, on pieces of paper, and next to them he arranges pieces of wood and plastic and other materials to illustrate how the arch achieves its goal. The left-hand side must be translated by a right-hand side, otherwise the arch would end in mid-air. Durham’s translation from word and stone and wood into materials that we feel free to despise, such as PVC plumbing tubes, is also noteworthy.
I love plastic of any kind; I like the shape of pipes, tubes […] This plastic tube, I like it very much in the artistic sense, in the art-world sense. It’s very unheroic, unmonumental. A plastic tube is not comical, it’s not strong enough to be comical, but it is never serious. Even the biggest piece of plastic PVC pipe won’t be serious. It will always be plastic tubing, it doesn’t lend itself to being phallic at the same time. You think it would become phallic, but it never does — or only in a silly way, and then it can be a little more humorous. So I like the passivity of it, the non-heroic side of it.11
Will the choice of the less-than-noble plastic or other unloved materials undo the monumental? And is undoing the same as overcoming? Rhetorical questions, hardly suited for polite American Indian society, but perhaps useful for talking about Durham’s Public Monument for the Birthday of Rome (1995). For this work he collected various pieces of rubbish that appealed to him as objects halfway out of use and installed them on a site overlooking Rome, as a ‘formless’ sculpture. Its form and content so appealed to passers-by that they had to be prevented from subtracting from it by a specially contracted security guard. So the anti-monumental should not be confused with the anti-aesthetic. The situation offered a temptation to deplete a whole system of concepts (‘public’, ‘monument’, ‘participation’), but Durham instead enriched them into almost tangible values (‘sculpture’, ‘project’, ‘appreciation’). Paradox and irony are notoriously treacherous as artist’s tools. They require the right hands.
In the mid-to-late 1990s Durham devoted much energy to refining his practice of ‘stoning’, or letting stones impact on diverse objects. Works such as the stoned television sets of Resurrection (1995), the stoned refrigerator St Frigo (1996) or the short videos later compiled under the title Collected Stones (1995— 2002) have become icons of this period in Durham’s work. The longer essays he wrote at the time are also important sources for his thinking, in which stones are prominent. In Between the Furniture and the Building (Between the Rock and a Hard Place), published in conjunction with an exhibition at Kunstverein München in 1998, we read about a grand scheme. There are nine large pieces of carved granite sitting in a quarry on the west coast of Sweden. Intended to become part of the ‘Arch of Peace’ planned by Adolf Hitler and Albert Speer for post- War Berlin, they were never shipped. Durham wishes to turn them into actors in a film:
The film will not be a documentary, although it will kind of ‘document’ itself. It will be a feature-length film (about 90 minutes) of high artistic merit, and therefore ‘commercial’ in some sense; even if not a ‘summer blockbuster’. We’ll get one of those barges that have no engine, and after taking the stones by truck through the forests to the harbour, load the stones onto the barge and tow them across the Baltic in the direction of Rügen Island and Berlin. Then we’ll sink them, barge and all, in the Baltic Sea (forming a useful artificial deep-water reef to support a variety of marine life). The stones will be free — and light, because they will have been transformed into light and cellulose (the film). But they’ll be eternal, too, as carved granite cannot be, because they will be art, and art is eternal, people say.12
I find it entirely in line with Durham’s intentionally inconclusive face-off with monumentality that these barges will, most probably, never be sunk before a film camera. In the meantime, celluloid has gone out of fashion.
For Jimmie Durham belief is a political matter. Through his work for the American Indian Movement Durham gained experience of ‘real’ politics: something not many other leading contemporary artists can claim. I have already quoted from the interview he gave to the Greenlander artist Julie Berthelsen in 1996. In response to her question about religion, he said:
I don’t like any religion at all. I don’t like the idea of it and I hope we get rid of it. I think it’s also a modern invention. I think religion isn’t very old and that religion, as we know it, is an invention of the state, in every case. […] The bush people of the Kalahari desert, they have no state or religion. I don’t think it makes them primitive but rather it’s a proof of their sophistication. They have never invented a state. They must be a superior people.13
This uncompromising attitude has found a direct expression in some of Durham’s artworks. In Shrouds and Swaddling Clothes of Decommissioned Saints (1995) he let clean garments soak in a brew of dirt, hair and white glue in two plastic laundry baskets, one red and one blue, and then ‘froze’ them in position. This echoed the works in his exhibition of ‘old clothes’ from earlier that year.14 What if these very fibres had been used for swaddling the newborn and cloaking the newly deceased? And what if these people at both edges of life were decommissioned saints?
The Pope has been decommissioning a lot of saints, which I think is a nice idea. His problem is that he’s making new saints. All the fascists in the world are now saints. I took two baskets of clothes, white shirts and things — they were all white — that I made dirty with a little bit of mud and hair and froze them with white glue so that they were hard.15
Such imaginary contact with formerly canonised bodies does not make these discarded garments special or precious to Durham. They lie forever tossed into cheap laundry baskets, a gesture of calculated unkindness towards a sign system that has justified countless crimes, not least against the peoples of the ‘New World’. Since the sixteenth century the Americas have been counted on to continuously swell the ranks of the Catholic Church and protect it from the dangers of reform, while its dominance in Europe has been undermined by criticality.
To work against belief is not just to be critical of religion. It is also to do what you can to advance knowledge. Tocetea, a one-minute video made in collaboration with Alves in 2003, shows three attempts at ‘making paintings’ by dropping a rather heavy stone from quite high up into a plastic bucket filled with red, blue and yellow paint, in the hope that the splatters might meaningfully stain a series of wooden panels. The results don’t quite meet those expectations (the paint stains had to be peeled off the clear plastic covering on the floor and stapled onto the panels afterwards), but some kind of learning appears to be going on. The title means ‘I teach myself’ in P’urhépecha, a language without any known relatives, spoken by some 100,000 people in the Mexican state of Michoacán. I agree with Durham that it is commendable for any language to have a concise word for such an important activity, and I assume that it is the stone that is teaching itself how to fall.
Another recent work, The Names of the Team of Scientists Who Submitted an Article on the Human Chromosome 14 in Nature Magazine, February 2003 (2003), offers unusually direct evidence of Durham’s interest in science.16 He celebrates the joint effort of 99 scientists in France and the US to exhaustively chart one part of the human genome (the adverbs that come to mind are ‘painstakingly’ and ‘selflessly’ — but perhaps they reveal only how narrowly the art world views the rest of the world) by writing their names on three panels and joining these with screws and pieces of plastic wire. The resulting piece poses as a delightful and sophisticated bricolage (but then again these adjectives only remind us of how narrowly the rest of the world views art). Once again Durham plays with the artful fusion of object and image and word and action; this time to indicate what ‘the production of knowledge’ might mean beyond the shop talk of academic art teaching.17
Durham’s political approach to belief and knowledge is perhaps most clearly articulated in his museums, a work format he has occasionally used since showing the acerbic On Loan from the Museum of the American Indian at Kenkeleba Gallery in New York in 1985. The museums allow him to ironically honour the conventions for organising and displaying objects that were created for the nineteenth-century public museum, while at the same time articulating unapologetically tendentious views on certain regions or countries. His lightness of touch might suggest that he is making up his facts to be entertaining. In reality, Durham is as informed and rigorous and intellectually consistent as some academics, but his tone and mode of address are those of a ‘friend of knowledge’ rather than of ‘someone who knows’.18 Maquette for a Museum of Switzerland, which premiered at Art Basel in 2011, doesn’t ignore the activities that stereotypically define the Confoederatio Helvetica, such as banking or time-keeping, but revolves around the reprinted black-and-white plates from an old anthropological study of carnivalesque Swiss peasants’ masks with grotesquely but stylishly exaggerated facial features, usually considered ‘folk art’. In the handwritten labels (this is the pretence of the ‘maquette’: edits might still be deemed necessary before the museum is presented to the public with properly printed legends) the creator and curator looks further. He discusses the pre-Christian significance of this culture, which was once at the very centre of Celtic Europe.
The almost-worldwide phenomenon of reading the patterns in the entrails of beasts and birds had a parallel in reading the convoluted patterns in brains, which in turn were echoed by the lines in a human face. Many of the images of masks presented here are of that type — making the face into a map which might show the lair of the beast. Others present versions of the ecstatic ‘crazy man’; Lällekönig the disrupter. […] They also often transform into the ‘wild man’, ‘Sylvester’, who is the spirit of the forest itself. […] It is easy for any of these characters to become aspects of the ‘animal man’, who is Pan to the Greeks but ‘Enkiddu’ to the Akkadians. The lost ‘savage’ part of Gilgamesh […] That which he needs in order to feel complete.19
To this Durham adds some illustrations from children’s books, showing how the church demoted the Spirit of the Forest and turned him into an innocuous fairytale figure — much like the Redskin has been treated in popular literature and by the film industry, he might add. But of course he doesn’t. This museum is about Switzerland.
If wood and plastic and paint and words are Jimmie Durham’s preferred tools for going against the grain of European monumental architecture and belief systems, which are just extensions of the state and its will to control us, then stone embodies his opposition to metaphorical thinking. Many artists have tried to transplant the metaphor from language to visual practice. The idea that one thing can be substituted for another without unbearable confusion appears to be invalid outside human language.20
Although Durham doesn’t necessarily subscribe to ‘classical’ European ideas about the animate being clearly distinguishable from the inanimate, his art demonstrates that inorganic substances respond particularly badly to metaphorical thinking. For him, the difference between words and images and objects is one of degree rather than of kind. They are able to talk to each other, and his works are set up to encourage such conversations, but this doesn’t mean that anything goes. Durham writes that he wants to free stone from ‘the heavy weight of […] metaphor’.21 The problem starts, as Durham emphasises by using this metaphor, when we try to replicate the lightness of language in a fundamentally different material. It becomes dead weight. Durham likes to carve stone, if it is hard enough and doesn’t yield too easily, and he likes to find and use stones that have already been shaped. I have already briefly discussed his ‘stonings’. It is important, he has told me, to distinguish between using stones as tools and regarding them ‘as stones’.22
The latter approach, which tries to look beyond the technological and architectural idea of stone, is, not surprisingly, much harder to get right. Durham is well aware that it might no longer be possible to see stone ‘as itself’. Our thinking was thoroughly instrumentalised during the Stone Age, as it were. A Stone from Metternich’s House was first realised as an action in Vienna in 1996. Durham tells the background story:
The name Vienna comes from the Celtic ‘wind ofona’, which means ‘white stone’, or ‘white Feuerstein’. I went to an old monastery in Plasy, Bohemia (Czech Republic), to establish a pole for the Centre of the World. Metternich, the German who had become foreign minister of Austria in 1809, had bought the monastery and made it into one of his summerhouses. Metternich once said that Asia begins at the Landgasse in Vienna. I brought a stone from the monastery to Vienna, to Ludwig W ittgenstein’s house.23
After duly noting the Celtic origin of so many things in this part of the world, Durham alludes to one of his core concerns: his repeated attempts to find the centre of the world and to make Eurasia a workable psycho-geographic term for positioning his own self. This quest was reflected in exhibitions such as ‘The Centre of the World’ at Middelburg, the Netherlands in 1995 and ‘The Centre of the World at Chalma’ at Pori, Finland in 1997, and perhaps even more decisively during his trip to north-eastern Siberia in 1995. He fashioned one of the first of his Staffs to Mark the Centre of the World from a young birch tree and left it outside a shopping centre in Yakutsk, capital of the Republic of Yakutia, which is some five times larger than France. A small mirror is attached to these staffs, to remind those who chance upon it that they are the centre of their own world. Literally, not metaphorically.
There is a black-and-white photograph of Durham in the dauntingly cerebral version of a Viennese mansion that Wittgenstein designed for his sister, taken just as he lets go of a stone above an empty little free-standing vitrine of typical German-make. Does he use this Bohemian ‘stone guest’ as a tool, an agent of destruction? No, I would argue that he has just freed it from any human influence and abandoned it to its ‘stone-ness’. It is in the stone’s nature to obey the laws of gravity, for which Durham can hardly be held responsible. In the video Smashing (2004), this logic is reversed. Durham is convinced that a stone he has found is a stone tool. Again, it is best to let him explain:
I find these tools all over Europe. […] They are made by humans, they are not naturally made, they are not made by accident. […] You can’t mistake a piece of flint that has been worked by a human with a piece of flint that has just been broken naturally.24
This time the task is to return the ‘tool-ness’ to the stone, to free it from the forced inactivity it has suffered for so many centuries. Smashing was recorded during a summer course for art students in Como, Italy in 2004. Durham sits behind a desk and uses his tool to smash all kinds of objects — large and small, hard and soft, valuable and trivial — that the students deposit in front of him. For each object smashed Durham signs a receipt. The violence of destruction is tempered by the orderliness and the lack of passion of its executor, in the timehonoured fashion of the state apparatus. The text piece Prehistoric Stone Tool from the same year turns the tables on the perpetrator, as the stone reveals an ill will of its own:
This simple flint hammer was made almost 40,000 years ago in the area of the river Seine close to present-day Paris. Of course, knowing so little of the lives and culture of people who produced this tool, it can only be conjecture as to its use. However, we can HEY! OW, OW, AIEE! STOP! STOP! WHY ARE YOU HITTING ME? PLEASE! STOP! OH NO! STOP! OUCH! 25
It would be presumptuous to attempt a conclusion here, since I have only been able to examine a few samples from Durham’s overwhelmingly rich production. I will opt for a final illustration of the non-metaphorical instead: the granite boulder, its friendliness enhanced by painted facial features, sitting in a pink rowboat in the river Wear in Sunderland in northern England, a stone’s throw from Durham Cathedral (yes, there is a connection: County Durham borders Scotland, and Durham counts Scottish ‘internal colonisers’ of the Cherokee among his ancestors). The title of this project from 2005 is The Second Particle/Wave Theory, a nod to the foundational paradox of science. Neither ‘particle’ nor ‘wave’ can fully characterise the nature of nature, more precisely of its smallest constituent parts. Everything is simultaneously stable and in flux. Durham introduces a complexity of his own, on a vaguely annoying intermediate level where things are not small enough to be negligible nor large enough to be of crucial importance. The stone in the boat becomes ‘particular’ and the engulfing river tide ‘wavular’.26 He stages a cartoonish situation that is both sharp-witted and mind-numbingly mild. Neither impressive nor believable, to use his own words. Exactly what he says he wants to achieve.27 The accompanying book offers a generous choice of meaningful detours, which, as a matter of fact, might be another way to characterise the uncharacterisable art of Jimmie Durham.
Brian Foster of S’underland writes that the stone in the boat looks like Mr. Potato Head. Well, there is a very good reason for that: protective camouflage. Potatoes camouflage themselves to look like stones. The hope is that any worm or grub passing by will think: ‘Oh, nothing to eat here, just a field of boulders.’ So it’s not me copying Mr Head, it is potatoes copying stones.28
Jimmie Durham, statement for the exhibition ‘A Shadow in Athens’ at Stigma Gallery, Athens, 2003.↑
Martin Heidegger, What Is Called Thinking? (trans. J. Glenn Gray), New York: Perennial, 1976, p.4.↑
See J. Durham, A Certain Lack of Coherence (ed. Jean Fisher), London: Kala Press, 1993.↑
During that period, his work was included in Documenta IX in Kassel in 1992.↑
Conversation with the author, 27 September 2011. I am curating his retrospective, ‘Jimmie Durham: A Matter of Life and Death and Singing’, at M HKA, Antwerp, 24 May—18 November 2012.↑
‘Julie Talks with Jimmie Durham’, Kitsch, students’ journal published by the Trondheim Art Academy. Trondheim, 1996. Julie is the artist Julie Berthelsen.↑
J. Durham, ‘Gilgamesh and Me: The True Story of the Wall’, in Jan Foncé (ed.), On taking a normal situation and retranslating it into overlapping and multiple readings of conditions past and present (exh. cat.), Antwerp: M HKA, 1993, unpaginated.↑
Rudi Laermans, ‘Two Conversations with Jimmie Durham’, A Prior, no.9, 2004, p.173.↑
J. Durham, Between the Furniture and the Building (Between the Rock and a Hard Place) (exh. cat.), Munich: Kunstverein München, 1998, p.93.↑
‘Julie Talks with Jimmie Durham’, op. cit.↑
Jimmie Durham, ‘Ropa Vieja (Spring Collection)’, Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, New York, 29 April—27 May 1995.↑
Richard William Hill and Beverly Koski, ‘Jimmie Durham: The Center of the World Is Several Places’, FUSE, vol.21, no.3, 1999, p.27.↑
The reference is to ‘The DNA Sequence and Analysis of Human Chromosome 14’, Nature, vol.421, 6 February 2003, pp.601—07 (by all the authors whose names are cited by Durham).↑
‘Look here, then: the area where intelligence is most easily observable is the area wherein we often think it does not exist. [We think that] we have there instead only skill and cleverness. So often, with, it seems, little consistency, we have a complex and subtle working definition of intelligence as having to do with only those areas of human life that are not normally seen as “endeavour”. Our “intellectual” or “artistic” side. Or, to put it another way, the side that has to do with “understanding” and the contemplation of the human condition.’ J. Durham, ‘Second Thoughts’, in Giorgia Kapatsoris and Charles Gute (ed.), Jimmie Durham, Milan and Como: Edizioni Charta and Fondazione Antonio Ratti, 2004, pp.21—22.↑
Much in the same way that a philosopher, perhaps, does not presume to possess wisdom but agrees to be called a ‘friend of wisdom’.↑
Wall text for Jimmie Durham, Maquette for a Museum of Switzerland (2011).↑
See Jean-Jacques Lecercle, The Violence of Language, London: Routledge, 1990, pp.144—75.↑
J. Durham, ‘A Shadow in Athens’, op. cit.: ‘Since moving back to Europe in 1994 I have been working with stone in various ways, trying to free it from the heavy weight of architecture and of metaphor.’↑
Conversation with the author, 14 January 2012.↑
Quoted from The Libertine and the Stone Guest, Durham’s English manuscript for Der Verführer und der steinerne Gast, the book that was published in German for the project at the Wittgenstein House. Ulli Lindmayr (ed.), Jimmie Durham: Der Verführer und der steinerne Gast, Vienna and New York: Springer-Verlag, 1996.↑
J. Durham, ‘Stones Rejected by the Builder’, in G. Kapatsoris and C. Gute (ed.), Jimmie Durham, op. cit., p.121.↑
This text is an integral part of the piece Prehistoric Stone Tool, 2004.↑
J. Durham, The Second Particle Wave Theory (As Performed on the Banks of the River Wear, a Stone’s Throw from S’underland and the Durham Cathedral) (exh. cat.), Sunderland: Walter Phillips Gallery Editions, 2005, p.17.↑
J. Durham, ‘A Shadow in Athens’, op. cit.↑
J. Durham, The Second Particle Wave Theory, op. cit.↑