I was making things. Some people said "That's art, you should put it in a gallery". That was in '63.
And since that time Jimmie Durham (1940-present) has had an artistic / political career that fuses his Cherokee heritage with the objects of his cynicism and laughter. He was in Houston then, and helped to establish an art space (Adept) consilient with the driving themes of his own work: the commodification of minority cultures and the procession of American myths. Soon thereafter (1968) he pursued an art education at the École des Beaux-Arts in Geneva, which he considered a privilege if only "to see Geneva and its stupidity."
If it were not oxymoronic to do so we might claim that his work is playfully political in its use of iconic historical debris like skulls and feathers and pottery shards as he recasts them in ethnographic museum displays with PVC piping and car parts. Durham believes certain objects to be "over-structured" symbolically, solidified as elements in history, and he has made it his project to antagonize these symbols, especially where they tend to eliminate concern for contemporary minorities by making historical objects out of their cultures. If Walter Benjamin had Mark Twain's lip and more of a penchant for the plastic arts a similarity might arise.
Q: There is this bricolage side to your work. . .
A: Yes, which I want now to take away, to be rid of because it is so there.
Even as an executive of the American Indian Movement and a founder of the International Indian Treaty Council (1974) Jimmie Durham leveled his sarcasm at the movement toward multiculturalism in the arts that gained steam in the eighties and afforded him a degree of fame for his nationality. Durham considered it a "minority syndrome" and a "disease" that would do more to undermine the work of these artists than gain them respect.
I believe that the acts and perceptions of combining, of making connections on many levels are the driving motivations of our aesthetic.
Searching for his book The Bishop's Moose and the Pinkerton Men (from which these inappropriately placed quotes were purloined and in order to replace the library copy stolen along with my book bag and a prismatic Ralph Steadman bookmark holding my place half way through Moby Dick) I came across a description of Durham's life on Walmart.com. It mentioned that he might also be a theoretical biologist and an animal trainer. They were selling his more recent book, On Becoming Authentic: Interviews. If I act now I can save $3.99