Jimmie Durham The Center of the World or How to Get at Chalma, vue d’installation, 1997.
Photo : Maria Thereza Alves

Jimmie Durham: Decentring the World

Jean-Philippe Uzel
At the heart of Jimmie Durham’s work as an artist, poet, and essayist — but also within his engagement as an Aboriginal activist and defender of civil rights — lies a simple premise: that geography has always conditioned politics, even though politics has forever acted as if geography didn’t exist and as though no spatial boundary could impede its actions1 1 - Jimmie Durham, “Eurasia” (2002), in Waiting To Be Interrupted (Milan/Anvers: Mousse Publishing/M HKA, 2014), 222..

The eclipsing of geography by politics has been characterized not only by the colonial expansionism of nation-states and their voracious appropriation of “virgin territories” on the backs of Indigenous populations since the sixteenth century, but also by a biased representation of geography, such as the one that makes us believe that Europe is a continent. From this perspective, Durham’s artworks can be perceived as a desire to restore geography to its rightful primary position in relation to politics.

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This article also appears in the issue 86 – Geopolitics - Geopolitics

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