until 02.04. | #3315ARTatBerlin | Galerie Barbara Wien shows from 12th February 2022 the exhibition project Jimmie Durham. texts and recordings as a solo show.
The artist and author Jimmie Durham has died in Berlin on 17 November 2021. The shock this news has caused in the art world is enormous, as Durham was one of the most important internationally active contemporary artists and is a role model for many who are equally interested in political, scientific and aesthetic issues. Durham has inspired many other artists and provided early complex commentary on issues that are on everyone’s lips today, including the Eurocentric gaze and its consequences. As a political activist, he has spent his life campaigning for the rights of indigenous populations.
In the 1970s, Durham co-founded and chaired the International Indian Treaty Council at the United Nations, where his work led, among other things, to the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Durham has been present at many art biennials, he has participated several times in the Documenta in Kassel and a work by Durham will also be on show at documenta fifteen in 2022. He received the Goslar Kaiserring art prize in 2016, and in 2019 the Venice Biennale awarded him the Golden Lion for his life’s work.
The director of London’s Hayward Gallery Ralph Rugoff wrote:
„I have nominated Jimmie Durham for the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement of the 58th International Art Exhibition based on his remarkable accomplishments as an artist over the past six decades, and in particular for making art that is at once critical, humorous and profoundly humanistic. Artist, performer, essayist and poet, Durham had his first solo exhibition in 1965 (we should probably be giving him two lifetime awards by this point in time). His generously expansive artistic practice spans many media, including drawing, collage, photography and video, but he is best known for his sculptural constructions, often made from natural materials as well as inexpensive common objects that evoke particular histories.
These sculptures are often accompanied by texts that drolly but incisively comment on Eurocentric views and prejudices. Insistently invoking the limits of Western rationalism and the futility of violence, his work has also frequently made reference to the oppression and misunderstanding of different ethnic populations around the world by colonial powers. Durham typically treats this material without the slightest trace of ponderous gravitas; instead, he forges razor-sharp critiques that are infused with shrewd insight and wit, and that pleasurably demolish reductive ideas of authenticity.”
Rugoff rightly emphasises how important Durham’s texts are for understanding his artistic concepts. They contain, as Rugoff says, perceptive critiques of the state of the world and are at the same time great literature.
This is the aim of the exhibition project Jimmie Durham. texts and recordings by Galerie Barbara Wien. Another reason for dedicating the exhibition to Durham’s writing is also rooted in the history that connects Galerie Barbara Wien with Durham. Not only has it held four solo exhibitions with him since 2000, it has also published Durham’s poetry collections Poems That Do Not Go Together (2012), Particle/Word Theory (2020) and the lecture The Usual Song & Dance Routine with a Few Minor Interruptions, which he gave in Glasgow in 2010, in the booklet how to write 2 (2013).
The exhibition will feature two films: a reading from the book Particle/Word Theory (2020) and a recording of the lecture Durham gave at the Glasgow School of Arts in 2010. The lecture shows how Durham not only performs his text, but activates the audience, incorporates the interruptions mentioned in the title The Usual Song & Dance Routine with a Few Minor Interruptions, and conveys his thoughts playfully – without heavyweight significance.
As its third contribution, Galerie Barbara Wien presents excerpts from the previously unpublished reading Poems: Written, Drawn, Selected and Read by Jimmie Durham. The recording took place in Berlin in April 2021 at the invitation of Sergio Edelsztein (Ediciones Inauditas). Durham read from his books Columbus Day (1983), Poems That Do Not Go Together and Particle/Word Theory and unpublished poems. The recording will be released as a long-playing record in the summer of 2022 as Record #1 in an LP series founded by Marius Babias and Sergio Edelsztein at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.). A text locating Durham’s poetry in American literature will be published by the poet Ammiel Alcalay in the booklet accompanying the record edition.
The north room of the gallery features Pissing in Germany (2012), an installation of texts on journeys Durham made in 2012 to set up a retrospective in Antwerp, an installation at dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel and a sculpture at the fair in Basel. Durham vividly depicts the effort involved in lengthy train journeys through boring landscapes, and he also integrates a Deutsche Bahn absurdity, a 50 cent coupon that you receive after using the toilets.
At the end of Pissing in Germany, one learns that the journey ended for Durham in hospital after a stroke. Galerie Barbara Wien reconstructs this text space that Durham developed for this gallery in 2012.
It also shows the print portfolio Moderate Material Flaws, an edition the gallery produced with Durham in 2000. It contains nine etchings that he made with pointed stones and glass splinters instead of the usual etching tools. The text sheet of the edition is entitled Meditiation on Work and Language.
Here, as is often the case with Durham, it is about the connections between language, writing and consciousness:
„Scratching words backwards into a hard surface is an odd experience. It makes clear that written language is
drawing – and that, like stone tools, it comes from work and play.
I think that language does not begin with the desire to name things, but with the need to describe action:
‘Search!, ‘Help!, ‘Run’, ‘Come’, ‘Dance’, ‘Work’.”
The exhibition will be expanded by various contributions during its run, for which Galerie Barbara Wien has asked Durham’s companions, such as Anne Ellegood (curator of Durham’s retrospective At the Center of the World at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles 2017; today Ellegood is Good Works Executive Director at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles), Bart de Baere (Director at M HKA, Antwerp) and Ammiel Alcalay (poet, scholar, critic, translator, lives in New York).
Starting this summer, the gallery will offer the new record edition Poems: Written, Drawn, Selected and Read by Jimmie Durham in the art bookshop (n.b.k. Record #1, curated by Sergio Edelsztein, edited by Marius Babias. Courtesy Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.) and Ediciones Inauditas, 2022). Barbara Wien and the gallery team would like to thank Maria Thereza Alves, Ammiel Alcalay, Nick Ash, Marius Babias, Bart de Baere, Rosa Barba, Anne Ellegood, Sergio Edelsztein, Sophie Moiroux, Michael Rakowitz, Kai-Morten Vollmer and Jan Werner for their support of the exhibition project Jimmie Durham. texts and recordings.
Opening: Saturday, 12 February 2022, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Exhibition dates: Saturday, 12 February – Saturday, 2 April 2022To the Gallery
Exhibition Jimmie Durham. texts and recordings – Galerie Barbara Wien | Zeitgenössische Kunst in Berlin | Contemporary Art | Exhibitions Berlin Galleries | ART at Berlin