Jimmie Durham
Self-Portrait Pretending to be a Stone Statue of Myself

A man (the artist, Jimmie Durham) is holding a stone in front of his face, almost a perfect mirror of the shape of his head, it completely obscures his face.
Jimmie Durham, Self-Portrait Pretending to be a Stone Statue of Myself, 2006. C-print mounted on dibond. Image courtesy of the artist.

A leading figure in contemporary rock art, Jimmie Durham is pictured here pretending to be a stone himself. For Durham, stone is not material, nor metaphor, but an anti-institutional, anti-representational, anti-monumental, and generative force. This self-portrait works against the classical notion that every stone hides a sculpture waiting for the sculptor to “discover” it, and instead is an evocation of the artist’s own inner stone-ness. This image is included in Rocks, Stones, and Dust not only as a singular work, but as an evocation of all of Durham’s work with stone—inviting you to see the thread connecting him, the other artists, yourself, and your relations, with each and every stone within (and outside of) this exhibition/catalogue.

Artist bio:

Born in Arkansas in 1940, Jimmie Durham is a sculptor, essayist and poet. He began working as a sculptor in 1963, and in 1969 he moved to Europe and studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Geneva. Along with three other sculptors he formed the group Draga, which researched ways to allow the plastic arts to be more accessible to public life. At the same time, along with a Mapuche Indian from Chile and a Quechua Indian from Bolivia, he formed an organisation, Incomindios, which attempted to coordinate and encourage support for the struggle of Indians of the Americas.

In 1973, Durham returned to the USA to become a full-time organiser in the American Indian Movement (AIM). During this time he served as director of the International Indian Treaty Council and as representative to the United Nations. In the early 1980s Durham returned his attention to art in New York City.

In 1987, Durham moved to Cuernavaca, Mexico, where he was based until 1994, when he moved to Europe. 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 large number of essays in books and periodicals, including Art Forum, Art Journal, and Third Text. In 1995, a collection of his essays, entitled A Certain Lack of Coherence was published by Kala Press.

His work has been selected for the 55th edition of the Venice Biennale. His solo exhibitions in Europe have included such venues as M HKA, Antwerp (2012); the Glasgow International Festival (2010); the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2009); the Musée d'Art Contemporain, Marseilles (2003); the Museum Voor Actuele Kunst, The Hague (2003); the Kunstverein München (1998); and the Wittgenstein Haus, Vienna (1996). Durham has participated in the Venice Biennale (2013, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005), Documenta (IX, XIII), and the Whitney Biennial (1993, 2006, 2014), among others.