Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World

Solo en Inglès

Sculpture of a Man

Jimmie Durham (b. 1940), Malinche, 1988–1992. Guava, pine branches, oak, snakeskin, , polyester bra soaked in acrylic resin and painted gold, watercolor, cactus leaf, canvas, cotton cloth, metal, rope, feathers, plastic jewelry, glass eye. 70 × 23 ⅝ × 35 in. (177 × 60 × 89 cm). Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (SMAK), Ghent, Belgium. Image ©S.M.A.K. / Dirk Pauwels

Narrator: This sculpture is Durham’s interpretation of a historical figure, Malinche.

Anne Ellegood: Within the Spanish conquest, she was sold as a slave to [Hernán] Cortés and functioned as his interpreter and traveled around Mexico with him.

Narrator: Anne Ellegood.

Anne Ellegood: She, in current Mexican history, is often held up as a traitor, but like Durham's interest in thinking through the complexities of Pocahontas as a historical figure, in this work he's also arguing for a reexamination of Malinche not as a traitor, but rather as a woman who was sold into slavery and oppressed by the colonizer.

Jimmie Durham: I did want to show the unreality of the myth, of the idea. The unreality of what they call reality. I carved a more realistic looking foot and I had a piece of yucca cactus that just happened to look like a foot, so I stuck it on.

Then, I made Cortez, but for a long time, he was just a face. I made many different layers that were all tinted differently, so then when I sand it down, it looks disgustingly like flesh, if flesh were dead and petrified. I wanted him to look monstrously bad and greedy, like he wanted Mexico.