Jimmie Durham [ 31 OCT 2017 | 5:05 ] I don’t like self portraits. I’ve done hundreds of them by now because I got into it.
We had some canvas in our place and I laid it on the floor and asked Maria Thereza to trace my body. I cut that out and then I had a beginning. I measured every part of my face and then carved it out of wood, but then I said, This doesn’t look like me.
It’s not going to look like me.
I’m not made out of wood, so I thought, now I have something nice I can play with. So then I started liking the idea of being as ridiculous as I could be with the self portrait.
I wanted to say things that were not true, but that were absolutely not lies, so nothing is true and nothing is a lie.
So this piece of painted canvas says, Hello. I’m Jimmie Durham. I want to explain a few basic things about myself. I was 44 years old.”
That’s what it says. At the time, and who knows, maybe even now, that was the average lifespan of an Indian [Indigenous North American] male, 44 years. It’s probably still true.
We have very bad statistics in the US.
As an artist, I am confused about many things, but basically, my health is good, and I’m willing and able to do a wide variety of jobs.
I’m actively seeking employment.
That’s because that’s what you have to sign when you get un insurance benefits in the US in New York. You have to sign a statement that you’re actively seeking employment.
The idea that either you’re exposing things with a self portrait and/or hiding things is both so silly and so funny at the same time that I had to make everything funny.
I did leave home deliberately, and I’ve been accused of not being part of any Indian [Indigenous American] community. It’s certainly a correct accusation.
I’m not, don’t want to be.
But I think when I came to Europe this time, in ’94, I stopped being any special kind of human being. I say, Well, I’m Italian and German. But of course, I could never be Italian or German. I could never be any nationality, not of the Cherokee nation or any other nation.
At this point in my life, the recent illegal immigrant in Italy is my best friend and my brother or sister, and that has to be the case.
It has to be the case for everyone in Italy. It has to be. These days, it sounds stupid to say, “I’m a citizen of the world.” I don’t think I am a citizen. I think I’m a homeless person in the world. I like to be that way. I think in the long run, it might help me make better art, more serious art.