San Antonio, Texas. Art Magazine.
By Haydeé Muñoz De la Rocha.
As an artist, I have always enjoyed sculpture because it happens within your space. You can paint and create a space, you can do the same with photography, but you will never be in that same space like you are with sculpture. Talking to Jimmy James, I discovered something deeper than sculpture. He said to me: “Sculpture is in your space, but with performance art you become the sculpture. A sculpture cannot literally touch you or hug you.” In performance art, the artist becomes art; art is within yourself.
In “Hair Today Gone Tomorrow” Jimmy James addresses a recurrent theme in his work: identity. After being invited to a show he could not attend organized by his friends in Chicago, Jimmy decided to sent them something that represented him: his mustache. The video documents the removal process of his mustache with a Bowie knife engraved with the Alamo, all strong gender and cultural symbols of identity.
Jimmy James usually does vast research about culture and identity issues. “Objects of Ethnography” by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett is one of the essays the artist has been reading from. In the essay, Kirshenblatt-Gimblet says: “Ethnographic artifacts are objects of ethnography. Objects become ethnographic by virtue of being defined, segmented, detached, and carried away by ethnographers. Such objects are ethnographic not because they were found in a Hungarian peasant household, Kwakiutl village, or Rajasthani market rather than in Buckingham palace or Michaelangelo’s studio, but by virtue of the manner in which they have been detached for disciplines make their objects and in the process make themselves”. An ethnographic object found in UTSA is created by Jimmy James by being detached and defined as a cultural and identity symbol. Jimmy documents the cutting of his mustache with a Bowie knife and preserves it in a wooden deer trophy plaque, which is then sent to Chicago in his representation.