Venice Biennale’s board of directors has announced that American artist Jimmie Durham will be awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. The recommendation was made by the 58th International Art Exhibition’s curator Ralph Rugoff. Durham, who is also a performer, essayist and poet, has taken part in numerous international biennales including five editions of Venice Biennale, four of Whitney Biennial and two of Documenta. His recent solo exhibitions were held at Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2017–18), MAXXI, Rome (2016) and the Serpentine Gallery, London (2015). In the last few years he has also received the Robert Rauschenberg Award (2017) and the emperor’s ring of the city of Goslar (2016).
In a statement Ralph Rugoff has said: ‘I have nominated Jimmie Durham based on his remarkable accomplishments as an artist over the past six decades, and in particular for making art that is at once critical, humorous and profoundly humanistic. His generously expansive artistic practice spans many media, including drawing, collage, photography and video, but he is best known for his sculptural constructions, often made from natural materials as well as inexpensive common objects that evoke particular histories. For more than 50 years, Durham has continued to find new, ingenious and cogent ways to address the political and social forces that have shaped the world we live in. In everything he makes, we are reminded that “sympathy is part of imagination and imagination is the engine of intelligence”, to borrow one of his own lines. That deeply sympathetic intelligence radiates from his work like invisible rays of light, illuminating a way of seeing that touches and changes everyone lucky enough to cross its path.’
The award will be presented to Durham on 11 May at Ca’ Giustinian, the headquarters of La Biennale di Venezia, during the awards ceremony and inauguration of the 58th Exhibition.
4 April 2019