On View: March 22 – June 15, 2014
Opening Reception: Friday, March 21, 2014 | 6:30-9PM
The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston is pleased to present video and sculpture by Mexico City-based artist Melanie Smith. CAMH's exhibition focuses on three video-based installation works: Xilitla: Dismantled 1; Bulto: Fragments; and Elevator (2010, 2011, and 2012, respectively). Working in cinematic installations since the late 1990s, Smith, as an English-born artist living in Mexico, initially took an almost ethnographic approach to the eccentricities of the sprawling, chaotic mass of her adopted home city, considering as worthy of critical examination the markets full of plastic and the shear physical expanse of the massive metropolis. Since 2010 her works have grown less analytical and increasingly poetic, sensual, and surreal.
Xilitla is named after the town in Northern Mexico where the eccentric English artist, poet, and patron of the surrealist art movement, Edward James, built the architectural folly called Las Pozas. Now half returned to the jungle, its sculptures recall an expatriate Englishman's response to the indigenous culture of the Americas through the lens of the surrealist's subconscious interpretations of it. A tall, vertical projection filmed by the artist shows a magical world and simultaneously its more quotidian underbelly--workers maintaining this rapidly decaying artwork. Yet even in that, Smith locates a deconstructed magic. Manipulating large mirrors that appear throughout the film, Smith doubles and dissects what is left of James' life's work creating a mesmerizing effect.
Bulto: Fragments was filmed in Lima, Peru, and in it we see a large, ungainly mass being carried, dragged, abandoned, and reclaimed throughout the urban center of the city as well as nearby archaeological sites, without anyone questioning what is hidden inside the bundled object. At CAMH, the video will be presented in its dissected form in which fragments appear on multiple small monitors throughout the public areas of the Museum, including the bathrooms and elevator. The short and darkly humorous Elevator presents episodic tableaux that appear and vanish as an elevator opens on different floors, becoming increasingly comic and surreal. This work is presented with associated objects that are derived from the increasingly wild scenes.
Melanie Smith is presented in CAMH's Zilkha Gallery and is curated by Bill Arning, Director. In Houston, an exhibition of new work by Smith, including paintings and a video, is also on view at Sicardi Gallery, February 27-April 19, 2014.
Melanie Smith is accompanied by a bound, illustrated catalogue including an essay by the exhibition's curator, Bill Arning, a checklist of works in the exhibition, and biographic and bibliographic citations. Available April 2014.
All events are free and open to the public and take place at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston unless otherwise noted. For complete listings and current information, please check www.camh.org.
Artist Talk: Melanie Smith
Saturday, March 22 | 2PM
Join artist Melanie Smith for a discussion about her work and influences.