Michael E. Smith
3 February – 28 April 2024 | Beim Stadthaus
American artist Michael E. Smith (b. 1977 in Detroit) creates sculptures from everyday objects. He searches for objects with unusual textures and traces of wear in stores, thrift shops, and on the street. He is particularly interested in the stories that accumulate on things through their everyday use. For a while, they were utilized and cared for by people who attributed a personal value to them; it is possible that they even triggered emotions before they were given away or thoughtlessly deposited on the curb. Many objects, such as cut-off dreadlocks or sneakers, are imbued with meaning from pop culture. Sometimes they are also archaic signifiers, such as the stuffed animals that Smith frequently uses in his sculptures. In addition to their widely ramified cultural and symbolic relationships, their origins as goods are to be found in our throwaway consumer society. Through surreal combinations and unexpected positionings in space, the artist imbues the works with their distinctive character.
When Smith begins to prepare an exhibition, his search for material becomes more specific. He first visits the exhibition venue to get an idea of the actual situation. Based on that, he chooses things with potential for the spaces, even if he does not have any final concept for the sculptures that will be created on location. The exhibition in Winterthur will consist entirely of new works that Smith creates during the installation phase. He will be inspired by the atmosphere of the rooms, the architecture, and the light, and only a fraction of the things that he has collected during his preparation will hold up in the actual context. The procedure, as the artist explains, is strongly characterized by music; he “improvises” in the style of jazz or hip-hop sampling during the extended installation of the exhibition on site. Smith creates songs, so to speak, that are tailor-made for each room and interlinked in the exhibition to form a soundtrack.
Curator: Lynn Kost
With kind support