Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World

Solo en Inglès

Mixed media artwork.

Jimmie Durham (b. 1940), 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

Jimmie Durham: We were living in Mexico when I did this. We had a lot of free wood around where we lived in Cuernavaca. I had this fresh piece of, I think it's ash, some sort of white wood like ash.

I saw something in our local market, I think, where there were heads springing out of another head. Probably a mask, carnival mask or something. I took the idea without taking the way it was happening, and made two different carved-wood heads and put them on in a way that could not make any sense.

So then I said, "I will put some names on it." I started just writing names. Wrote one name, stuck it on. That name reminds me of another name, not any logic, only free association, I guess you'd call it.

I don't like art that means something other than itself. Of course, it means something, but it doesn't mean language something. I don't like for people to look for it to mean something.

I know why they do it. They do it because it's the European tradition to make paintings that illustrate Biblical stories. That's what paintings in churches are, illustrations of Biblical stories, so it's not art. It's painting. It's the craft of painting and illustrating a story.

But I want art to be like music, its meaning is in itself.