Jimmie Durham – THE BUREAU

friday 24 january 2020
2.30 pm > 5.00 pm
Hall 15 - Stand B2

Production: Arte Fiera, curated and organized by: Xing 


The American artist was to have presented a re-enactment of his iconic performance, Smashing, created in Como in 2004. Unfortunately, health problems have prevented him from coming to Bologna. The event was to have taken place as follows:

“Sitting at a desk, the 80-year-old artist will officially destroy objects given him by the audience. Official certificates will be issued at the end of each operation. Durham’s action is an irrefutable statement on objects, on monetary value, and on the concept of authenticity. Registrations, bureaucracy, identity, and possession are treated lightly by an artist who has always denounced the limits of rationalism and the futility of violence.”

“Bad things happen to people all the time. When you least expect it, after more or less surviving the latest insults, you’re suddenly called to come to the office… to the BUREAU. Usually something is broken or irrevocably changed. You leave with something less, but full of memories of an incomprehensible experience.” (J.D., 2019)

As a homage to this great artist (and our best wishes for a speedy recovery), the space assigned to the performance remained installed, and a monitor showed images of the 2004 performance Smashing at Fondazione Antonio Ratti, of which THE BUREAU was to have been the re-enactment.


Jimmie Durham (b. USA, 1940, lives in Europa) is an artist, poet, and essayist. He works in many forms: drawing, performance, photography, and video, even if his most famous works are sculptural constructions with materials that historically have been used as tools: stone, wood, bone, iron, and glass. Durham is interested in what happens “far away from language,” investigating the relationship between forms and concepts, uncertainty and paradox. His intuition guided him on a long path critical of western logic and thought. With dry humour, he criticizes the foundations of our contemporary discourses, the political and cultural forces that rule the history of oppression, and the powerlessness of the world’s minorities. He has participated in numerous international shows, such as Documenta, Kassel, Whitney Biennial in New York, Venice Biennale, Istanbul Biennial, and many other group shows. His solo shows include: Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, MAXXI in Rome, ICA in London, Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, Museo Madre in Naples, Portikus in Frankfurt, Serpentine Gallery in London, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (NBK), and Fondazione Querini Stampalia in Venice. Retrospectives include e: MuHKA, Anversa; Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and Remai Modern in Saskatoon. He received the Imperial Ring of the City of Goslar (Goslarer Kaiserring) and the Robert Rauschenberg Award, and in 2019 received the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 58th Venice Biennial.