Jimmie Durham

Jimmie Durham

Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp (M HKA)

Jimmie Durham, Jesus. Es geht um die Wurst, 1992.*

May 11, 2012

A Matter of Life and Death and Singing
Jimmie Durham retrospective at M HKA
24 May–18 November 2012

Press Preview: Wednesday, 23 May, 11am
Private View: Wednesday, 23 May, 7pm
Opening: Wednesday, 23 May, 8:30pm

Leuvenstraat 32
BE-2000 Antwerp, Belgium

T +32 3 260 99 99
info [​at​] muhka.be


“My work might be considered ‘interventionist’ because it works against the two foundations of the European tradition: Belief and Architecture. My work is against the connection of art to architecture, to the ‘statue,’ to monumentality. I want it to be investigative, and therefore not ‘impressive,’ not believable.”
–Jimmie Durham, 2003

M HKA is proud to present this retrospective, the most comprehensive presentation of Jimmie Durham’s oeuvre to date. His many-faceted practice is an inspiration for many artists, curators, and theoreticians today, not least of the younger generation. He does not make “art about art” but work that is open to the world outside art.

Durham, born in the U.S. in 1940 and based in Europe since 1994, is one of few contemporary artists to have hands-on experience of political work. In the 1970s he was an activist in the American Indian Movement and the representative of the International Indian Treaty Council to the United Nations.

The title for the retrospective was also used for one of Durham’s earliest solo exhibitions, at the Alternative Museum in New York in 1985. A Matter of Life and Death and Singing reflects his seriousness and wit, his aesthetic and political engagement, his inventive resistance to architecture, and other symbols of the State. All this is part of his uncompromising commitment to what he calls “humanity’s thinking process.”

Durham’s retrospective at M HKA comprises more than 100 works from all his creative periods. Many of his ideas and images recur in different forms at different stages of his career, so the exhibition presents “ensembles” of works that are not always chronologically organized.

Durham, also a poet and a prominent essayist, uses all the components of what is today called visual art. Images and words may be nailed or glued or painted onto objects, which may be made “live” in front of an audience. This process may be photographed or filmed. His work is “sculpture” in the widest sense: material appearances in space. The materials range from wood and stone and bone to plastic tubes and printed text. Durham also works with drawing, painting, and video, and he creates his own museums, sometimes in collaboration with his partner, the artist Maria Thereza Alves. One of their joint projects, The Museum of European Normality (2008) is featured in this retrospective.

Jimmie Durham: A Matter of Life and Death and Singing is accompanied by a generously illustrated book with the same title, co-published by M HKA and JRP│Ringier and edited by Anders Kreuger. It contains new essays by Durham himself, English critic and curator Guy Brett, and Canadian curator and scholar Richard William Hill. M HKA is also preparing a collection of Durham’s essays from the last twenty years, edited by Jean Fisher.

This whole exhibition and publishing project is based on in-depth research and the creation of a substantial database, which now contains many of Durham’s texts and information about more than 900 of his works, and which M HKA will continue to develop.

M HKA thanks all the private and institutional lenders who have contributed works for the retrospective. Without their generosity our ambitious undertaking would not have been possible.

M HKA also thanks the galleries that work with Jimmie Durham in different cities around the world: kurimanzutto in Mexico City, who represent him, Christine König Galerie in Vienna, Wien Lukatsch and Galerie Opdahl in Berlin, RAM radioartemobile in Rome, Galleria Franco Soffiantino in Turin, Galerie Michel Rein in Paris, Galerie Micheline Szwajcer in Antwerp, Lumen Travo Gallery in Amsterdam, Sprovieri Gallery and Matt’s Gallery in London, Módulo—Centro Difusor de Arte in Lisbon, Batagianni Gallery in Athens.

Last, and most importantly, we thank Jimmie Durham and Maria Thereza Alves. Working with them has been—and will remain—an excellent experience for us.

M HKA is an initiative of the Flemish Community and is supported by the Province of Antwerp, the City of Antwerp, the National Lottery, Akzo Nobel Decorative Coatings—Levis, Cobra, [H]ART, and Klara.

Jimmie Durham: A Matter of Life and Death and Singing is supported by SD Worx and the Evens Foundation.

Bart De Baere and Anders Kreuger

Public Talk
Jimmie Durham and Dirk Snauwaert (Director of WIELS, Brussels)
Tuesday, 22 May, 8pm in Cinema Zuid, Antwerp

Press Contact
pers [​at​] muhka.be

*Image above:
Jimmie Durham: Jesus. Es geht um die Wurst, 1992. Collection of M HKA, Antwerp. Photo: Jochen Verghote.

A Matter of Life and Death and Singing: Jimmie Durham retrospective at M HKA
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May 11, 2012

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