Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World
Nov 3, 2017–Jan 28, 2018


A wall sculpture by Jimmie Durham. A naked human figure hangs from a wall.

Jimmie Durham ( b. 1940), Self?portrait, 1986. Canvas, wood, paint, metal, synthetic hair, fur, feathers, shell and thread, 78 × 30 × 9 in. (198.1 × 76.2 × 22.9 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Contemporary Painting and Sculpture Committee 95.118

Artist and activist Jimmie Durham (b. 1940), who is of Cherokee heritage, has worked as a sculptor, performer, essayist, and poet for more than thirty years. Durham was a political organizer for the American Indian Movement during the 1970s, but by 1987 he decided to live in self-imposed exile, settling first in Mexico, then in Europe in 1994. Much of his later work combines found and constructed elements with text to expose Western-centric views and prejudices hidden in language, objects, and institutions. Often considered an extension of his political activism, Durham’s art is critical in its analysis of society and oftentimes mockingly ironic in the broad spectrum of his artistic expression.

With close to 200 objects dating from 1970 to the present and accompanied by a catalogue comprising several scholarly essays, an interview with the artist, a chronology, and a selection of his own writings, both old and new, the exhibition traces Durham’s ongoing use of materials such as bone, stone, and wood while also demonstrating his commitment to shedding light on the complexities of historical narratives, notions of authenticity, and the borders and boundaries that try to contain us.

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 Whitney’s presentation is organized by Elisabeth Sussman, Sondra Gilman Curator of Photography, Whitney Museum of American Art.

The exhibition is made possible, in part, by generous support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.