For this new solo exhibition, Durham has created an installation that covers the entire gallery space of Parasol unit foundation. The ground floor display is a vivid explosion of industrialisation and colour: brightly painted oil barrels are dispersed amongst automobile parts, painted plastic replicas of animal bones and pipes leaking bright acrylic gel.
The visual impact of the display is akin to the rainbow tinting of oil in puddles, said by Walter Benjamin to be the best sign of modern times. The barrels are coated with “chameleon” paint, commonly used on automobiles, which changes colour depending on the viewer’s standpoint. This, along with the industrial spillages signified by the acrylic gels seeping from plastic pipes, suggests chemical intervention in the landscape, bracketed by the skeletons that lie forgotten amidst the chaos.
The exhibition on the first floor gallery also draws on the strange ubiquity of oil barrels in our contemporary environment. This installation is more sedate, a monochromatic presentation of discarded objects and organic matter.
The walls are covered by sheets of drawing paper showing the sparse black and white contours of animal forms. Durham also showcases a 90 minute video, Smashing, in the smaller space of the gallery. He describes the artwork as a “beautiful death”, which despite all that is going on in it, would look almost austere if it were not so cheerful. His work commonlly explores and transforms the nature of materials, referring to the attributes of mankind and animals, their life and past history.
Jimmie Durham, Traces and Shiny Evidence, 12 June – 9 August, Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art, 14 Wharf Road, London, N1 7RW. www.parasol-unit.org.
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1. Courtesy of Jimmie Durham. Photo Kai Vollmer