Jimmie Durham

Video, 2:40 min.
“GRUNEWALD“, 2006 – in collaboration with SILVIA OCOUGNE
Video, 13:35 min.

Human communication behaviours, strung between technology and conven- tion, appear as ‘natural’ habits in Jimmie Durham’s works. A Telephone Call shows the artist in a chair. He makes two calls in which anger and concern, thoughtfulness and laughter, alternate. The spell cast by watching is so intense — due, at least in part, to the pull of one’s own voyeurism — that the fact that the ‘cordless’ telephone is actually an old handset without a cable, and thus unconnected, goes strangely unnoticed. Jimmie Durham directs an anthropo- logical gaze, sharpened from decadeslong investigations into the image poli- tics of ethnological museums, on modern information society with its ritual practices that are coupled to mobility and progress. Cordless communication satisfies the desire for freedom and mobility but nevertheless it does appear that, even as we are increasingly ‘on the ball’, we also voluntarily impose control mechanisms and rituals on ourselves that arise out of the opportunities provided by the technology.

Grunewald, a video performance arising from the collaboration of Maria The- resa Alves and Jimmie Durham, shows big city dwellers in woods close to Berlin. They are apparently engaged in primitive communication rituals using sounds generated by various objects. Both the dystopian natural environment of an urban forest, as well as the allegedly archetypical form of communica- tion, are anything but “natural”. The work is also a collaboration with the Brazilian sound artist Silvia Ocougne.