MINNEAPOLIS, April 19 2017—The Walker Art Center is pleased to present the first U.S. retrospective of artist, poet, essayist, and political activist Jimmie Durham (b. 1940, Arkansas), one of the most compelling and multifaceted artists working internationally today. On view from June 22 – October 8, 2017 in the Target and Friedman Galleries, Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World features approximately 175 works from the artist’s expansive practice, including sculpture, drawing, collage, printmaking, photography, and video from 1970 to the present.
“The Walker is excited to share the work of the critically-acclaimed conceptual artist Jimmie Durham whose work is represented in major museum collections around the world, including the Walker’s. His distinctive multimedia practice, which includes sculpture and video, as well as writing and poetry, has influenced many artists working today across generations,” said Olga Viso, Walker Art Center Executive Director. “This long-overdue retrospective of Jimmie Durham, his first solo show in the US in almost 25 years looks at the artist’s engagement with vital questions of identity, appropriation, indigenous rights and cultural ownership.”
For more than 45 years, Jimmie Durham has explored the potential of art to question ingrained cultural belief systems. Calling himself an “interventionist,” he 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. Durham’s practice spans across artistic mediums and is noteworthy for its use of language and distinctive wit.
After studying art in Geneva and working for the American Indian Movement, Durham became part of the vibrant New York City downtown art scene in the 1980s. He immigrated in 1987—first to Mexico and then to Europe, where he has lived since 1994—and has rarely exhibited in the United States over the past 20 years. Since his participation in Documenta IX (1992), however, his work has been widely shown and critically embraced in Europe. Yet his work remains connected to crucial developments in American art, such as found-object assemblage, appropriation, institutional critique, and the politics of representation. Durham’s art provides a singular and vital perspective on such topics as genocide, exile, and statehood. Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World provides an opportunity for audiences to gain a deeper understanding of, or perhaps encounter for the first time, the richly rewarding work of this complex and influential artist. A catalogue accompanies the exhibition.
Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World is organized by the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and curated by Anne Ellegood, senior curator, with MacKenzie Stevens, curatorial assistant. The Walker Art Center’s presentation is organized by Vincenzo de Bellis, curator, with Misa Jeffereis, curatorial assistant. Following the Hammer Museum and the Walker Art Center, the exhibition will travel to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and Remai Modern in Saskatoon.
Opening Day Tour: Edgar Heap of Birds and Vincenzo de Bellis
Thursday, June 22, 5:30 pm
Artist and longtime colleague of Jimmie Durham, Edgar Heap of Birds, will join curator Vincenzo de Bellis on a walkthrough of the exhibition.
Opening Week Lecture
Artist and Critic Lectures: Edgar Heap of Birds and Shanna Heap of Birds
Saturday, June 24, 2–4 pm with break
These two lectures will focus upon experiences shared between Durham and Edgar Heap of Birds including joint exhibition and public art projects that became provocative contributions to the world of contemporary art in the 1980s and 1990s. In addition, Shanna Heap of Birds will examine how the content and impact of Durham’s numerous critical writings and oratory helped shape global indigenous discourse, as well as Durham’s important collaborations on articles, essays and books with the late and very significant writer, curator and editor Jean Fisher of London.
Lecture: Paul Chaat Smith
Thursday, August 31, 6:30 pm
Drawing from Durham’s influential career, as well as alternate practices and approaches to the intersection of art, curating and politics Paul Chaat Smith addresses a riddle at the heart of American life: how is that Indians are present everywhere, from our earliest memories—in the form of place names, popular culture, advertising, sports teams, weapons systems—and yet Indians are barely present in history and largely absent from the great national debates of our time.