Jimmie Durham: Art & Activism

Commonly known as an art activist for the Indigenous peoples of America, Jimmie Durham uses his creativity and cultural background to speak out against the oppression of his people. His works shown here use a wide array of materials-most notably real skulls-to create various assemblage sculptures. Inventive and often a bit bizarre-seeming, his works tend to utilize destruction in order for their creation. From a smashed refrigerator, to a human skull, to a paper with his blood smeared on it, Durham is not shy about his processes and proclamations.  A retrospective of Jimmie Durham’s work is now on display until May 7th at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. Many of the works shown in this exhibition were rediscovered by curator Anne Ellegood upon digging through Durham’s archives and storage for this show. Still relevant to the struggles Indigenous peoples face today, this retrospective of his work is bringing him back into the American art scene and helping revive his messages.

Hammer Museum: 10899 Wilshire Blvd., (Westwood) Los Angeles, 90024

Admission: Always free

Hours: T-F from 11-8 and Sat & Sun from 11-5

Above: the back side of Tlunh Datsi from 1984

The back of the puma skull featured in the front center of the first picture. Note the use of varying materials and the inventive restructuring of everyday items.

Human skull (top left and bottom picture) and baby buffalo skull (top right) in combination with several other common Native American materials (such as turquoise, beads, feathers, and shells)

Above: Karankawa from 1982

Pictured above and below: New York Gitli from 1984

All photos were taken by me at the Hammer Museum’s exhibition “Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World” which was brought together by Anne Ellegood, senior curator, and MacKenzie Stevens, curatorial assistant.


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