A selection of writings by artist, poet and political activist Jimmie Durham, one of the most influential figures of recent decades: essays and conferences on art and society, critical reflections on “Eurasia”, the history of US-American Indian relations, and observations on the city and nature.
A recurrent theme is his interrogation of the ideological complicity between monumental architecture and scripture – “architexture”– as the foundation of Eurocentric belief and tool of others' disenfranchisement.
Durham's primary format is storytelling, central to which is the ability to communicate experience. Edited by Jean Fisher, Selected Writing is the second, long-awaited collection of the artist's texts, produced and released in a twenty-year span. If the forms of address in the texts aim for simplicity, the use of language—peppered with puns and neologisms and digressions into multilingual etymologies—demonstrates a complexity that persistently defers our demand for easy interpretation. As Durham frequently implies, his subversion of textual logic is intended to liberate words as material from their entrapment in thoughtless conventions (blind belief), just as his play with found materials is intended to free art from its capture in the deathly inertia of monumentalism—its connection to architexture.
Jimmie Durham (1940-2021) is one of the most influential artists, not least for younger generations of artists and curators. Of his art he said that it “works against the two foundations of the European tradition: Belief and Architecture.” Sculpture, seen as the coming together of object, image, and word, was fundamental to his practice, but he was also a poet, essayist, and educator.
Durham's life as an artist began in the mid-1960s in Texas. In the early 1970s he worked in Geneva. In the late 1970s he was a political organizer with the American Indian
Movement, Director of the International Indian Treaty Council and its representative to the United Nations. In New York around 1980 he turned once again to art. Between 1987 and 1994 he was based in Mexico, and thereafter in Europe, or, as he prefered to say, in Eurasia.