Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World
Nov 3, 2017–Jan 28, 2018

A man holding a stone in front of his face

Jimmie Durham, Self-Portrait Pretending to Be a Stone Statue of Myself, 2006. Color photograph. Edition of 1 + 1 AP. 31 ¾ × 24 in. (80.7 × 60.9 cm). Collection of fluid archives, Karlsruhe. Courtesy of ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe

Artist and activist Jimmie Durham (b. 1940) has worked as a visual artist, performer, essayist, and poet for more than forty-five years. A political organizer for the American Indian Movement during the 1970s, he was an active participant in the downtown New York City artistic community in the 1980s. In 1987 he moved to Cuernavaca, Mexico, then to Europe in 1994, where he has lived ever since. Predominantly a sculptor, Durham often combines found objects and natural materials and incorporates text to expose Western-centric views and prejudices hidden in language, objects, and institutions. Calling himself an "interventionist," Durham is oftentimes critical in his analysis of society but with a distinctive wit that is simultaneously generous and humorous.

Durham's expansive practice spans sculpture, drawing, collage, photography, video, and performance, and the exhibition includes approximately 120 objects dating from 1970 to the present. It is accompanied by a catalogue comprising several scholarly essays, an interview with the artist, a chronology, and a selection of Durham's own writings, both old and new. The first North American retrospective of Durham's work, At the Center of the World traces his remarkable attentiveness to materials and characteristic approach to assemblage while demonstrating his commitment to shedding light on the complexities of historical narratives, notions of authenticity, and the borders and boundaries that try to contain us.

Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World is organized by the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and curated by Anne Ellegood, senior curator, with MacKenzie Stevens, curatorial assistant. The Whitney’s presentation is organized by Elisabeth Sussman, Sondra Gilman Curator of Photography, and Laura Phipps, assistant curator, Whitney Museum of American Art.

Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World is organized by the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.

The exhibition is made possible, in part, by generous support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Henry Luce Foundation.

In New York, generous endowment support is provided by The Keith Haring Foundation Exhibition Fund.


Explore the Exhibition


Director's Statement

Jimmie Durham's retrospective exhibition has revived longstanding debates about the artist's self-identification as Cherokee, and Native American tribal sovereignty. Director Adam Weinberg addresses the ways in which the exhibition can serve as a platform for discussion and dialogue.

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Hear From the Artist

“I wanted to say things that were not true, but that were absolutely not lies.”
—Jimmie Durham

Hear directly from the artist as he discusses works in his first North American retrospective exhibition, Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World. The audio guide provides additional commentary from curators and scholars.