Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World

Solo en Inglès

sculpture made of a car steering wheel

Jimmie Durham, Bedia's Stirring Wheel, 1985. Car steering wheel with shifter, metal car wheel, cotton flag scraps, cow leather, fur, sheepskin, pigeon feather, dog skull, beads, plastic doll, acrylic paint, 42 1/4 x 18 in. (107.3 x 45.7 cm). Collection of Karen and Andy Stillpass

Narrator: Here, Durham has combined car parts, feathers, and scraps of fur, leather, and fabric in a deliberately mysterious sculpture. He called it Bedia’s Stirring Wheel, and presented it—along with Bedia’s Muffler, which you’ll see nearby—as part of a loose fictional narrative. He presented the objects as artifacts, left behind by the first inhabitants of an island called Manahattas. Durham explained that they’d been discovered by a fictional Cuban archeologist and explorer named José Bedia. Durham gave very little additional information, leaving viewers to imagine Manahattas on the basis of the objects alone. What, one might wonder, would modern Manhattan have been like if the encounter between Europeans and the island’s original inhabitants had gone differently?

This project was inspired by a real person, named José Bedia—a Cuban artist whose work Durham had seen and admired. They hadn’t met when Durham made these works, but Bedia came to the gallery opening where they debuted, and the two artists became friends.