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Remai Modern statement on Jimmie Durham

Saskatoon, Canada — In preparing to host the major career retrospective, Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World, March 25 to August 5, 2018, Remai Modern — the exhibition’s only Canadian venue — has issued the following statement.

Over his lifetime, Jimmie Durham has produced an expansive and compelling body of work, addressing issues of identity, colonization, state violence, racial stereotyping and commodification of culture. Through his participation in significant exhibitions and symposia presented in Canada, from the 1980s onward, Durham and his work are of abiding resonance and relevance to curators, scholars and artists here, including many who have interpreted his practice from Indigenous perspectives.

Durham’s retrospective exhibition has reactivated longstanding debate surrounding his self-identification as Cherokee and his refusal to be categorized as a Cherokee artist. We acknowledge that Durham does not belong to any of the federally recognized and historical Cherokee Tribes in the United States, which as sovereign nations determine their own citizenship.

This retrospective is an important exhibition. As we prepare to open Remai Modern, we will be monitoring debate surrounding the presentation of the exhibition in Minneapolis and New York. Drawing on this response, as well as the complexities of Durham’s life and work, we will develop multiple approaches to facilitate discussion of the critical, cultural and social issues prompted by the exhibition.

About Remai Modern

Remai Modern is a new museum of modern and contemporary art coming to life in Saskatoon, a growing city on the vast Canadian Prairies. Scheduled to open October 21, 2017, Remai Modern aims to be a vibrant, imaginative and prescient museum committed to affirming the powerful role that art and artists play in questioning, interpreting and defining the modern era. The building, by eminent Canadian architects KPMB, overlooks the South Saskatchewan River in downtown Saskatoon. Remai Modern is home to the world’s foremost collection of Picasso linocut prints, and aspires to be a leading centre for contemporary Indigenous art programming.

Remai Modern is made possible thanks to contributions from the Government of Canada, the Province of Saskatchewan, the City of Saskatoon, and many private and corporate donors. We are also grateful for program support from SaskCulture, the Saskatchewan Arts Board, SaskTel, Canadian Heritage, and the Canada Council for the Arts.