Jimmie Durham is a sculptor, essayist and poet who has been making and exhibiting work since 1963. His first solo exhibition was at the public gallery of the University of Texas at Austin in 1965; a period when the cultural and political uses of material, objects and space were central to his practice. Since that time his substantial career has deftly bridged the space between art and activism.
During February - April 2010 Durham will undertake a three-month Production Residency at Glasgow Sculpture Studios (GSS) to create new work for Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art: a series of intimate performance events conducted by the artist, leading to a large-scale sculptural installation presented in the GSS’s galleries. This lecture will allow insight into the extensive knowledge and experience that Jimmie Durham will bring both to the Residency and the production of this new work for Glasgow International 2010.
In collaboration with Glasgow Sculpture Studios and the Goethe Institute, Glasgow
Jimmie Durham (born USA, 1940) moved to Europe in 1969 and studied at L’École des Beaux-Arts in Geneva. Along with three other sculptors he formed a group, Draga, which researched ways to allow the plastic arts more access to public life. At the same time, along with a Mapuche Indian from Chile and a Quechua Indian from Bolivia, he formed an organization, Incomindios, which attempted to co-ordinate and encourage support for the struggle of Indians of the Americas.
In 1973 he returned to the USA to become a full-time organizer in the American Indian Movement (AIM). During this time he served as Director of the International Indian Treaty Council and representative to the United Nations.
In the early 1980s Durham returned his attention to art in New York City, working with a loose group of artists who were Puerto Rican, Afro-American, Asian-American and American Indian, following the instigation of his partner, the artist, Maria Thereza Alves. This group exhibited together frequently in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Harlem, the Bronx and Brooklyn.
In 1983 West End Press published Columbus Day, a book of his poems and in 1988 his poetry was also included in Harper’s Anthology of 20th Century Native American Poetry.
In 1987 Durham moved to Cuernavaca, Mexico, where he was based until moving to Europe in 1994. During his time in Mexico, Durham began to exhibit internationally, including at the Whitney Biennial, Documenta IX, ICA London, Exit Art, New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp and the Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels. He also published a number of essays in books and periodicals, including Art Forum, Art Journal and Third Text. In 1995, A Certain Lack of Coherence, a collection of his essays was published by Kala Press. Since moving to Europe, Durham’s work has focused primarily on the relationship between architecture, monumentality and national narratives. Publications on anti-architecture include: Der Verfuhrer und der Steinerne Gast, Springer, Vienna, 1996; Between the Furniture and the Building: Between a Rock and a Hard Place, Walter Konig, Cologne, 1998; Stoneheart, CCA, Kitakyushyu, 2001; Jimmie Durham, Edizione Charta, Milano, 2004 and The Second Particle Wave Theory, University of Sunderland and the Banff Centre, 2005.
His solo exhibitions in Europe have included venues such as the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Musée d'Art Contemporain in Marseilles, Museum Voor Actuele Kunst in den Hague, Hamburg Kunstverein, FRAC in Reims, SMAK Museum in Ghent, Wittgenstein Haus in Vienna, Kunstverein Munich, and the Venice Biennale (1999, 2001, 2003 and 2005), Whitney Biennale (1993 and 2006) among many others.
In 1995 Phaidon published Jimmie Durham, a comprehensive survey of his art and in 2009, on the occasion of Durham’s retrospective at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Pierres rejetées, a catalogue of Durham’s work in Europe was published.
Obsidiana, a major solo project by Durham, which was developed over the past two years, is currently showing at Kurimanzutto in Mexico City.