Press Release

Dan Gunn is pleased to announce the second solo exhibition by Michael Smith at the gallery.

Timeline (1951-2016), 2016
Multi-media installation
Disco ball, lights, fog machine, scrim, video projection
Looped, dimensions variable

Since the 1970s, Michael Smith has been a pioneering figure of performance art. Merging the art world with the entertainment world, he has created a body of work that includes video, commercial, and cable television shows, puppet shows, stand-up comedy, gallery installations, drawings, and even comic books. Through his work, Smith has developed two characters and personae, “Mike” and Baby Ikki. “Mike” functions metaphorically as a kind of ever-hopeful Candide, adrift in a world of rapid technological advancement that he seems incapable of fully comprehending. He has continued to age alongside the artist for more than 35 years. Baby Ikki remains forever young in a onesie and pacifier, grasping at objects and people with infantile curiosity.

In the past few years, much of Smith’s work has focused on the theme of aging and personal reflections on the passage of time. His most recent piece, Timeline (1951-2016), is a meditative tableau installation that appears through a transparent scrim as a timeline of projected dates counting up from 1951, the year of his birth, while a lone disco ball spins in the background over pools of colored light and intermittent puffs of fog. For Smith, like many baby boomers, disco not only represents abandonment and fun but also conjures up the deaths of the many people victimized by the AIDS epidemic.

The disco ball, perhaps the most salient element of the installation, has been an important recurring visual motif in many of Smith’s works, from the USA Free-Style Disco Championship performance in 1979, to the elaborately layered installation Mus-Co in 1997. For viewers familiar with Smith’s performance personae, the timeline will inflect pathos and gravitas onto a seemingly bland and unexamined life. For those coming to the work for the first time, the installation is designed to allow the viewer time and space to reflect and project onto a chronology of specific dates in a quiet, personal manner, offering a more open-ended experience.

Timeline (1951-2016) also considers the continually blurring identities of Smith’s performance personae with that of Michael Smith the artist. The autobiographical dates bracket his life, as well as the “lifespan” of an artistic career and the characters of Baby Ikki, and ‘Mike’. This exhibition is the third iteration of Timeline, after its exhibition in Smith’s solo exhibitions at Tramway, Glasgow in 2014 (as part of Glasgow International) and at Greene Naftali, New York in 2015.

Also in the exhibition are a selection of works on paper by the artist from 1975 to the present.

Images

ms_6874s Timeline (1951 - 2016), 2016
disco ball, lights, fog machine, scrim, single channel video projection
ms_6879s Timeline (1951 - 2016), 2016
disco ball, lights, fog machine, scrim, single channel video projection
ms_6884s Timeline (1951 - 2016), 2016
disco ball, lights, fog machine, scrim, single channel video projection
ms_6887s Timeline (1951 - 2016), 2016
disco ball, lights, fog machine, scrim, single channel video projection
ms_6882s Timeline (1951 - 2016), 2016
disco ball, lights, fog machine, scrim, single channel video projection
ms_6872s Timeline (1951 - 2016), 2016
disco ball, lights, fog machine, scrim, single channel video projection
ms_6866s Timeline (1951 - 2016), 2016
disco ball, lights, fog machine, scrim, single channel video projection
ms_6862s Timeline (1951 - 2016), 2016
disco ball, lights, fog machine, scrim, single channel video projection
ms_6854s Timeline (1951 - 2016), 2016
disco ball, lights, fog machine, scrim, single channel video projection
ms_6846s Timeline (1951 - 2016), 2016
disco ball, lights, fog machine, scrim, single channel video projection
ms_6845s Timeline (1951 - 2016), 2016
disco ball, lights, fog machine, scrim, single channel video projection
ms_6813s Timeline (1951 - 2016), 2016
disco ball, lights, fog machine, scrim, single channel video projection
ms_6891s Timeline (1951 - 2016), 2016
exhibition view
ms_6892s Timeline (1951 - 2016), 2016
exhibition view
ms_6894s Timeline (1951 - 2016), 2016
exhibition view
ms_6895s Timeline (1951 - 2016), 2016
exhibition view
ms_6893s Timeline (1951 - 2016), 2016
exhibition view
msmith-74-0001 Untitled (Over the Hill), 1975
ink on paper
msmith-96-0001 From the Fax Machine Series, ca. 1996
ink on paper
msmith-00-0002 Plaid, Go To Hell Pants, ca. 2000
pen on paper
msmith-82-0001 Biggest Building in the World, 1982 - 2005
photograph
msmith-05-0002 Backpacks: Drawn From Memory, 2005
pencil, ink and watercolour on paper (double-sided)
msmith-05-0002b Backpacks: Drawn From Memory, 2005
pencil, ink and watercolour on paper (double-sided)
msmith-78-0001 I wonder what... (working drawing for Down in the Rec. Room, 1978
ink and marker on paper
msmith-05-0001 Portal Notes, 2005
pencil, ink and watercolour on paper (double-sided)
msmith-05-0001b Portal Notes, 2005
pencil, ink and watercolour on paper (double-sided)
msmith-02-0001 Good Thru, 2002
ink and correction fluid on paper
msmith-03-0003 You Mine You, 2003
ink on paper
msmith-98-0001 Trying to Send a Fax, 1998
ink on paper
msmith-03-0001 TV Dinner Subdivision, ca. 2003
mixed media on paper (double-sided)
msmith-03-0001b TV Dinner Subdivision, ca. 2003
mixed media on paper (double-sided)