Melanie Smith was born in Poole, UK, in 1965 and studied Fine Arts at Reading University from 1984 to 1988. She now lives and works in Mexico City and mainly works in painting, video and photography.
Melanie Smith’s oeuvre creates an interference of sensibilities that has nothing to do with the mixing of traditions and cultural ancestors. On the contrary, Smith’s exploration of the city’s casual repertoire is the haphazard proximity of two processes of modernisation, a heterogeneous vision that has its origin in two monuments of visual and social secession, in two crisis situations. Melanie Smith combines two different visual concepts and two economies that would normally be seen at opposite ends of a spectrum in her work and yet, share the drift caused by a new general orthodoxy of global capitalism. This fact alone suggests a post-national status quo: it is an aesthetic that emphasises the long-distance interferences of the circuits of contemporary capitalism.
Smith’s paintings, photographs and videos employ the same mobility and ductility as objects put on sale by the market. This example of the contingent nature of contemporary aesthetic compromises led her to practice forms of installations that demonstrate the ephemeral nature of the works within themselves. By arranging paintings to be showed stacked against a wall, for instance, she does not build up the traditional situation of a work in a studio, but rather fortifies the fragmentary and always substitutable value of the experiences her work records and produces.
Eschewing any discourse that refers to the value of an irreplaceable totality to the installation, Melanie Smith has started to create a number of sets in which she combines, overlays and arranges her works in various media (paintings, objects and even performance settings) to provoke structures that are therefore taken down and dispersed, since their components are works that can be autonomised, displayed, sold or circulated separately.
Like the city itself, there is no element of the set that is constitutive: several assembled works are put together into a far more complex program than each of its parts, but this addition never ends up being a ‘whole’.
Selected Solo Exhibitions
CCA Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius, Lithuania, 2014
Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, US, 2014
Centro de las Artes de San Agustin Etla, Oaxaca, Mexico, 2013
Villa Merkel, Esslingen, Germany, 2012
MALI – Museo de ARte de Lima, Lima, Peru, 2011
Mexican Pavilion, 54th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy, 2011
San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, US, 2004
Selected Group Exhibitions
Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Mostoles, Spain, 2014
Foundation Beyeler, Riehen, Switzerland, 2014
LACMA, Los Angeles, US, 2013
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, US, 2013
Yerba Buena Center of the Arts, San Francisco, US, 2012
8th Mercosul Biennale, Porto Alegre, Brasil, 2011
Fundación/Colección Jumex, Mexico City, Mexico, 2011
176 Zabludowicz Collection, London, UK, 2010
Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, US, 2010
ARCO Foundation Collection, Madrid, Spain
Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
CIFO Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, Miami, US
Colección Isabel y Augustín Coppel, Mexico City, Mexico
Daros Latinamerica AG, Zurich, Switzerland
La Colección Jumex, Ecatepec de Morelos, Mexico
Sammlung Essl, Klosterneuburg, Austria
Zabludowicz Collection, London, UK