Jimmie Durham’s My Book, The East London Coelacanth, Sometimes Called, Troubled Waters; The Story of British Sea-Power is animated by a distinctive voice − amused, obstinate and exciting our curiosity − that negotiates our and its own worries about what a book ought to contain, in what order and for how long. In this book Durham looks at Englishness − posing the question “who are you?” to the (presumed English) reader.
Durham’s investigation takes on board the Angles, angling, a fossil fish, East Anglia, and East London, though this is not simply the place where the books itself was published but a town in South Africa, near which a coelacanth was caught in the 1950s. Durham writes that “if I could catch an East London Coelacanth in East London, England, I might somehow be helping resolve some of the residual problems of Anglish Imperialism.” Photographs show Durham in various parts of the world, fishing or near water, and at different ages, and some other people with fish. These are accompanied with Durham’s conversation-like texts combining to make a book that demands to be read and read again to unravel its riddle.
Co-published by Book Works with the ICA, London.