Michael Smith, associate professor in the Department of Art and Art History at The University of Texas at Austin, is featured in “A Voyage of Growth and Discovery,” a collaborative sculptural, sound and video installation with internationally renowned artist Mike Kelley.
This project is on exhibition at SculptureCenter in Long Island City, N.Y., and marks the first collaboration between the artists.
The installation includes a six-channel video featuring Smith’s character Baby IKKI and a 30-foot-tall junk sculpture of the Baby, all-encompassing sound and other related sculptures that are on view at SculptureCenter from Sept. 13-Nov. 30. The installation will travel to Los Angeles in 2010 in an exhibition at West of Rome. This exhibition will be co-produced by SculptureCenter.
Smith has been performing as the character Baby IKKI for more than 30 years. In 2007, the Baby was brought in to perform in the lobby of the university’s Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art during Smith’s solo exhibition, “Mike’s World.”
“Although the Baby has seen and done a lot since 1975, in terms of maturation, it’s apparent his development has been arrested for some time,” said Smith. “Inadvertently, the Baby has become a kind of mirror for many adults, as they continue to project a variety of ideas about childhood and innocence onto him.”
“A Voyage of Growth and Discovery” is a massive sculptural, sound-and-video installation that follows Baby IKKI over several days at the infamous festival in Black Rock Desert of Nevada.
Los Angeles-based artist Kelley has done projects with artist Paul McCarthy, Tony Oursler and the band Sonic Youth. Kelley’s work has also taken a variety of scale, including small floor sculptures to giant large-scale environmental installations.
“The collaboration with Mike went very smoothly,” said Smith. “You never know how collaboration will go, but I was amazed how well we worked together. I did the heavy lifting in the initial stages of the production and he carried most the weight after that. It worked out better than I anticipated.”
Smith joined the Department of Art and Art History faculty in 2001, and teaches performance and video in the Transmedia area of the Studio Division. His work was recently included in the group exhibition “The Pictures Generation: 1974-1984” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He has been exhibited extensively across the United States, Canada and Europe. Smith has had solo exhibitions at Dunn and Brown Contemporary in Dallas, Galleria Emi Fontana in Milan and at Ellen de Bruijn Projects in Amsterdam. His works are in the permanent collections of The Walker Art Center, the Museum of Modern Art, the Centre Georges Pompidou and the Museum of Radio and Television in New York City.