HUMANITY IS NOT A COMPLETED PROJECT: JIMMIE DURHAM’S RETROSPECTIVE
The exhibition presented by the Madre Museum is the first retrospective after his death in late 2021, and features over 150 works, some never previously exhibited.
Humanity is not a completed project creates links across time periods within thematic sequences, combining elements of chronology with a narrative approach and including references to the artist's experiments with spatial strategies in key historical exhibitions.
Across a career spanning more than fifty years, Durham dedicated his practice to the critical decoding of the naturalized images and symbols that underpin dominant cultural systems. His works, marked by a strong vein of humor, range from sculptures to videos, poems, performances, installations, paintings, drawings, collages, prints and essays. Constructing "illegal combinations with rejected objects," across natural and industrial materials, Durham generated ruptures within conventions of language and knowledge.
The exhibition is a tribute to an artist whose protean, multi-layered work is fundamental to the understanding of contemporary art and its possible futures. Its title, taken from a print by Durham, underlines his project to relativize as culturally specific the universalizing and teleological notions of the human characteristic of European modernity. The opening sequence lays out Durham's critique of notions of authenticity, identity, truth and nationhood—"Veracity" and "Voracity" read two of his early sculptural signs.
Artist, poet, performer, essayist, activist: Jimmie Durham (1940–2021) is a unique figure in the international art history of the last half century. His work addresses the foundations of European and North American culture, deconstructing received ideas and accepted categories.