As of next month, Los Angeles won’t be the only major city hosting a massive boulder.
On August 6, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is unveiling “Still Life With Spirit and Xitle” (2007), a new outdoor sculpture work by Jimmie Durham. The sculpture, which the Arkansas-born, European-expat artist debuted in Mexico City in 2007, comprises a 1992 Chrysler Spirit crushed underneath a boulder. The piece will greet visitors at the museum’s main entrance.
And greet viewers it will: Durham painted a goofy grin on the red-basalt boulder, which was plucked from the volcano, Xitle, and plopped on the sedan by a crane. What might have otherwise be an earnest performative gesture—something like Michael Heizer‘s “Levitated Mass” (2012), a 340-ton boulder now parked outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art—is a mischievous, almost animated display, thanks to Durham’s cartoonish intervention.
The installation comes ahead of a major retrospective of Durham that is, unfortunately, not coming to the Hirshhorn: Starting in 2017, the Durham survey will travel from the Hammer Museum in L.A. to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and finally to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. But viewers in D.C. will have time with his work. “Still Life With Spirit and Xitle” is a long-term installation, a laugh-out-loud comical addition to the Sculpture Garden side of the Hirshhorn Museum.