Courtesy of Artist Resources Management and Anna Kustera Gallery, New York
© The Estate of Karlheinz Weinberger

“Jeans,” Karlheinz Weinberger’s
new photography book

March 21 2012
5:07 PM

In the western world, jeans—a garment with a history extending over one hundred years back—possess a deep cultural significance. The incomparably durable fabric, together with the simple designs prototyped by Levi’s, Lee and Wrangler, is a fail-proof combination that has cemented jeans a place in the wardrobes of many, from the working classes to public icons like Steve Jobs. Of course, their place in subcultures should not be underestimated either. In his erotic writings, the iconic gay porn director Fred Halsted described a pair of jeans as a part of his S&M uniform, deliberately unwashed for weeks as to maintain the smell of their wearer. Swiss artist Karlheinz Weinberger also perceived the garment as a “personal erotic obsession” and a cultural symbol. His expansive photographic portfolio of jean wearing working class youth in the 1950s Switzerland is reproduced in a recent book, Jeans. Published by the Swiss Institute of Contemporary Art New York, and serving as a perfect accompaniment to their exhibition of Weinberger’s prints, the book commences with the introduction by the show’s curator Gianni Jetzer. Together with another two recent publications dedicated to the artist’s photographic oeuvre, Rizzoli’s Rebel Youth and Larissa Kasper’s Foto: Jim, Zurich, Jeans is a manifestation of a renewed interest in Weinberger’s practice. (Aliina Astrova)

Jimmie Durham, A Fountain in Case Your Roof Leaks, 1996,
Courtesy of Christine Koenig Galerie, Vienna

Jimmie Durham’s exhibitions at the
Swiss Institute in New York,
and MuHKA in Antwerp

March 21 2012
4:04 PM

Maquette for a Museum of Switzerland” at the Swiss Institute, is Jimmie Durham’s staging of a museological display. Assuming the role of an anthropologist, the artist builds his own museum of Switzerland in New York, displaying a collection of statues, relics and masks. Switzerland’s folklore is juxtaposed with the long-standing traditions of watchmaking, banking and Schnapps. The show expands on the issues that have always preoccupied Durham. A former activist for the American Native Indian movement, the artist continues his self-critical exploration of colonialism and the reconsideration of taxonomy, cultural authority and nationalist ideologies. Approached with irony, the exhibition is, nevertheless, far from empty satire, attesting to Durham’s former claim: “I don’t want to make cynical or pessimistic work, because that’s naive. So if I want to be against instruction and belief but want to still contribute to liberation, I have to use whatever means seem human at the context. So the irony I try to use is never cynical or mocking, it’s another kind of interruption.” Simultaneously with the Swiss Institute show, the most comprehensive retrospective of Durham’s work to date opens its doors at MuHKA in Antwerp. The survey provides an exhaustive exploration of Durham’s multifaceted practice through a display of previously unpublished texts, recordings and objects. (Marta Jecu)

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