Narrator: Durham first showed these works at the Whitney, in the 1993 Biennial.

Jimmie Durham: I had a funny studio in Mexico with a bunch of things. So many things looked like either guns or cameras. I saw the two as the same in the sense of they're pointed at you to control you.

Narrator: Durham combined the materials into an allegory of police-state violence and surveillance.

Elisabeth Sussman: Each object has a label, a text.

Narrator: Elisabeth Sussman is Sondra Gilman Curator of Photography.

Elisabeth Sussman: The labels are a range of languages. They're never translated for you, the ones that you can't read the language of, but they’re, as you can see with these objects, they’re appended to the object. They're attached to the objects as if they're supposed to tell you something about the objects, right?

It's the kind of thing that you would see in a museum that would be a remnant of another civilization that the label is going to try to explain to you. You would get a very specific read of the materials, and he's put kinda put these things together so he's defamiliarized the whole system.


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