This artist book is composed of the observations, texts and images that Durham collected during a Venetian stay, pointing out the complex relationship between the tourism
industries, the stories of local workers and Venice's history.
Four years ago Jimmie Durham was invited by the Fondazione Querini Stampalia and began talking to people in and around Venice who work as boat builders, glass blowers, goldbeaters, woodcarvers, as well as people who work in restaurants and various administrative positions. He talked to all different kinds of workers and gathered their stories. He found that many came from countries such as Senegal, Tunisia and Bangladesh, and that they prefer to remain an invisible element of the local economy.
This preliminary work resulted in an exhibition at the 56th Venice Biennial. The show was not intended as a monument, but rather as a vehicle for dialogue that addresses the complex melding of these ideas: tourism, the social imaginary of Venice, labor, and the man-made object.
In this accompanying book, Durham has compiled writings and images—of objects he has assembled, as well as images of people and scenes of Venice—as well his analysis of the underlying connections between the tourism industries, the stories of local workers and Venice's history.
Published following the eponymous exhibition, Fondazione Querini Stampalia at the 56th International Exhibition of visual arts – La Biennale di Venezia, from May 9th to November 22nd, 2015.
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.