Whitney Biennial 2014

Solo en Inglès

Hear directly from artists as they discuss the thoughts, processes, and ideas behind their work in the 2014 Biennial. The guide also features commentary from Biennial curators Stuart Comer, Anthony Elms, and Michelle Grabner.

201—Jimmie Durham


NARRATOR: Jimmie Durham’s Choose Any Three is the tall wooden sculpture opposite the elevators.

ANTHONY ELMS: It’s sort of like, I find it a wayfaring sign. It has a little skull with wings that sort of welcomes you in. 

NARRATOR: Second-floor curator, Anthony Elms.

ANTHONY ELMS: It says "choose any three" and then there’s a list of like, Ho Chi Minh, Christ, etcetera. 

To make a bad analogy, if you think of like a choose-your-own-adventure path, where you end up by choosing any three from his list, [it] puts you in a radically different position relative to society, relative to somebody else, relative to political power structures, relative to somebody next to you who’s picked a different three. Like you become enemy, friend, provocateur, saboteur, saint. So I think that choice―it sort of lands you, socially.

NARRATOR: Durham was born in Arkansas, and has been living outside the United States—refusing to return for political reasons—since the 1980s. Anthony Elms invited the artist to be in the Biennial, and Durham chose to include this sculpture. It’s an older piece, from 1989. Durham picked Choose any Three partly in playful response to the fact that this year’s Biennial has three different curators. 


Jimmie Durham, _Choose Any Three_, 1989. Carved and painted wood, metal, and glass, 99 3/16 × 49 3/16 × 48 in. (251.9 × 124.9 × 121.9 cm), kurimanzutto, Mexico City. Courtesy the artist and kurimanzutto, Mexico City. © Jimmie Durham. Photograph by Jean Christophe Lett