Michael Smith (Chicago, 1951) has an impressive exhibition and performance history that began in the mid 1970s. He graduated from Colorado College in 1973 with a degree in painting, but was also intrigued by the performance art of Vito Acconci, William Wegman, and Richard Foreman. Michael Smith is best known for his performances, installations, drawings and videos, but his artistic career also includes puppet shows, commercial and cable television skits, stand up comedy and comic publications. Smith intertwines the worlds of art and American entertainment and often uses humour in his works. He invokes the routines and formats of popular comedy to articulate and emphasize the banality and hype of mass consumer culture. Taking visual elements from American television formats such as music videos, commercial advertisements, sitcoms and game shows, Smiths videos and performances take place in a world once-removed from reality to accentuate his slow and deliberate mannerisms. He developed a number of alter ego’s, the most emblematic one being modern day average man Mike. Smith uses the deceiving innocence of this persona in an effective way to comment on the impact of media and rapidly changing technology on everyday life, and the isolation of those whose lives are shaped by it.
Ellen de Bruijne Projects will exhibit an overview of various video’s, photographs, audio files, drawings, and never before seen work spanning a period of more than 30 years. At the opening on 16 January Michael Smith will give a live performance to introduce his exhibition. The video’s that will be shown include Down in the Rec Room, 1979-81; Secret Horror (in collaboration with Mark Fischer), 1980; Mike Builds a Shelter (in collaboration with Mark Fischer), 1985; Mike, 1987 and Portal Excursion, 2006.
In addition videos of several early performances will be shown to give a more detailed insight into the development of Smiths performances and different alter ego’s. These videos include Busmans Holiday, Let’s See what is in the Refrigerator, and different versions of Down in the Rec Room. The drawings and photographs that will be displayed have a supporting character to the performances and videos in different ways. Apart from their own intrinsic qualities they reveal part of Smith’s creative process and give the viewer the opportunity to see the connections between the different exhibited works.
Smith exhibited and performed worldwide at museums, galleries, universities, festivals, nightclubs, on TV and in the streets. In New York City, he had solo shows and screenings at The New Museum, The Whitney Museum, Christine Burgin Gallery and MOMA. Internationally, he had solo exhibitions at Le Magasin in Grenoble, Objectif in Antwerp, Galleria Emi Fontana in Milan and Hales Gallery in London. In 2007-08, his retrospective Mike’s World was exhibited at the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Texas and at the ICA in Philadelphia. Smith’s works were included in the 2008 Whitney Biennial and in the Metropolitan Museum of Art 2009 exhibition The Pictures Generation: 1974-1984. The SculptureCenter in New York recently presented A Voyage of Growth and Discovery, a collaborative video installation by artists Mike Kelley and Michael Smith, including a six-channel video featuring Michael Smith’s other well known alter ego Baby IKKI. Smith is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation fellowship, a Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships. Smith lives in Brooklyn and in Austin, where he teaches at the University of Texas.
Opening Saturday 16 January 17-19 h
* At the opening on 16 January LIVE PERFORMANCE by Michael Smith at 17.30*
Exhibition 16 January – 20 February
Gallery Hours Tue – Fri. 11-18 h/ Sat 13-18 h/ 1st Sun of the month 14-17 h.
Juha Laatikainen & Konsta Ojala – Domestic Panda
In a way the panda bear is much better of in a zoo. He has a simple job (being cute), and gets paid in bamboo every end of the day and everyone is extremely delighted if he gets laid. In it’s own habitat the panda bear eats some type of bamboo, which only fills up this hu…ge animal when eaten in very large quantities – such large quantities that the panda bear has a hard time reaching his RDA.
Perhaps the zoo would be a good place for the average man too. Too bad for mr. Average that the world isn’t exactly a zoo (at least not in a way we know). Mr. Average has to work his ribs out to earn his RDA of bamboo, and next to that he has to meet all kinds of social requirements within other kinds of legal boundaries while at it. It’s a tough life for mr. Average.
More often than a panda bear escapes from the zoo a mr. Average runs amok. He tries to rise above (or below) average, not knowing he is trapped in a catch 22 (not unlike the escaped panda bear that cannot find it’s favorite bamboo anywhere in the western world, and therefore has to return to the zoo in order to survive). The attempt of mr. Average to rise above average will be an average attempt, and thus mr. Average will still be seen as average.
This ill fate of the average man is whats keeping Juha Laatikainen and Konsta Ojala (both quite average themselves) off the streets of Helsinki since they met at Art School and started their collaboration. Their collaboration leads mostly to installations, drawings and animations. For Dolores they created a series of videos, which will be presented in an installation. They both hold a masters degree, but hey – that’s hardly above average these days.
Konsta Ojala (Finland 1979) lives and works in Berlin or Helsinki depending on his financial situation. He’s is the founder of Adios magazine which is a self-published art magazine. At the moment Ojala is working on the Adios III book. His work can be seen right now in Taidehalli (KunstHall), Helsinki and at the Teheran international poster biennale. More works on www.meandkonsta.com.
Juha Laatikainen (Finland 1978) works and lives in Utrecht. Laatikainen has recently been developing a peculiar approach to indulge himself in the life of people from a forgotten northern minority – the Sámi – in order to finish a project of video making about local identity. His work can be seen next in Bergen Norway.
Dolores curator: Joris Lindhout