Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World

Solo en Inglès

collection of objects on a white wall

Jimmie Durham, On Loan from the Museum of the American Indian, Installation view, Hammer Museum

Narrator: Durham titled this group of works On Loan from the Museum of the American Indian. It was the artist’s response to a plan to open a new Smithsonian Museum that would exhibit Native American artifacts and cultural traditions.

Jimmie Durham: I was struck by the idea, Museum of THE American Indian. It’s such a clumsy term. You wouldn’t say, Museum of the Italian. Museum of the Jew. Museum of the Black. It’s not nice to do that, is it? Then I said, that’s something to poke at. That’s something to play with.

Narrator: Durham attended a conference about the museum at the American Indian Community House. The other members of the community consulted on the genocidal history implied by the museum’s collection.

Jimmie Durham: What should they do with almost a million pair of beaded moccasins that they have?

Obviously, what they can do is start a Holocaust Museum, but they're not going to start a Holocaust Museum on us even though they killed millions of us and still think it's funny, still celebrate it.

I couldn't do anything with that. I certainly couldn't try to make any art about almost a million pair of beaded moccasins. It's too sad, too tragic, too dirty. So, I said I can make my own Museum of the American Indian.