Sunday, February 27, 2011

Nice to Meet You Jimmie!

    Jimmie Durham was born in 1940. He is a Cherokee sculptor, writer and poet. Durham was quite active in theatre arts which were related to the civil rights movement. He was a member of the AIM (American Indian Movement) central council which clearly shows Durhams' heart for equality.When AIM came to an end in the 1970's, he then lived in New York focusing his attention back to art.At this time, it mainiy sculptures that Durham presented. He aggressively challenged the general conceptions of North American Indians to help the world greater understand their true culture. Durham describes himself as a "postmodernist primative" which regards to his Indian background and his refusal to conform to the Western modern art world. It generally implies his ethnic and socio-economic worldview as an Indian.

Self-portrait, 1986

    One of his works of art, La Malinche is a simple sculpture put together by recycled wooden pieces, which in itself seems as if little time and effort was contributed. However, at a closer look at the piece in whole, it becomes a mass range of stereotypes. Western onlookers may at first have been tricked into believing that this would be an artifact for a museum. Consequently, La Malinche was an Indian mistress of a white man in Mexico, and as this piece is titled so, it plays upon the perceived sexual oppression and colonial and imperial domination of Native Americans.
    I think that this is a great take upon art because to shatter peoples' perceptions takes courage and a unique ability to create intellicutal stimulation. In the photo below, the wow face is half human, half snakeskin, she has scrawny legs that are made of polyester batting which cannot support her figure. La Malinche’s torso has no heart, no lungs, yet wears a bra. In my opinion, there is little worth to her as a human being and her face looks melancholy which signifies unhappiness. Therefore, learing about a culture through art is equally as effective as learning it through conventional ways.

    Around 1987, Jimmie Durham relocated to Cuernavaca, Mexico where he began to exhibit internationally which includes Whitney Biennial, Exit Art, New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp and the Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels. He also published a various essays in books and periodicals, including Art Forum, Art Journal. Following, in 1995, A Certain Lack of Coherence, a collection of his essays, was published by Kala Press.

    From my observations, Mr. Durham wants to promote his culture without having to feel ashamed and belittled. He wants the world to truely take away the negativity which this country brought on the American Indians and understand the culture as a whole. I can honestly think about all the misconseptions each aand every racial background has which is due it's only a lack of knowledge and history. Moreover, having learned about Durhams' art, it is clear to me that he isn't afraid to go against thee grain while still having an underlining message. Through art, many things can be understood and it's a good thind that he has made such and impact not only as an artist but as a writer, sculptor, and poet.

You may chuckle a bit when reading the text picture but Durham was quite precise and comical for this one!
Pocahontas' underwear, mixed media, 1985
We have made progress, mixed media, 1991

“One of the most terrible aspects of our situation today is that we do not feel we are authentic. We do not think that we are real Indians … For the most part, we just feel guilty, and try to measure up to the white man’s definition of ourselves.” –Jimmie Durham, Cherokee poet and artist

1 comment:

  1. Ariah - nice start! :)

    Can't wait to hear more about him and see some pix! :)