Michael Smith (b. 1951)

The MUSCO Story: 1969-1997
Open House, excerpts (1999)
QuinQuag (2001-2002)
Take Off Your Pants Prologue (2005)
Take Off Your Pants Installation (2005)
Take Off Your Pants Commercial (2005)
Mike Kelley and Michael Smith - A Voyage of Growth and Discovery (2010)

Michael Smith is a video, installation and performance artist who invokes the routines of popular comedy to articulate the banality and hype of mass consumer culture, and the isolation of those whose inner lives are defined by it. In a series of videotapes, performances and installations, which he has produced since the late 1970s, Smith chronicles the trivial dreams and adventures of his eponymous alter-ego, the bland, deadpan "Mike," a postmodern Everyman who believes everything and understands nothing in his media-saturated world.

The tragicomic tales of this underdog hero are performed by Smith within the parodic context of pop cultural formats: sitcoms, music videos, TV ads, variety and game shows. Smith's cunning lies in turning the media back on itself, in connecting the worlds of art and pop, culture and kitsch, an ironic approach that prompted J. Hoberman of The Village Voice to call him "a lower Manhattan cross between Rodney Dangerfield and Joseph K."

In his live performances, Smith often assumes the guise of a stand-up comic; he has co-produced and hosted Mike's Talent Show, a free-floating performance extravaganza that appears in downtown New York clubs. In 1989, an hour-long version of Mike's Talent Show was featured on cable television's Cinemax channel.

In recent years Smith has produced a number of large-scale installation works in collaboration with artists such as Joshua White and Mike Kelley.

Michael Smith was born in 1951. He received a B.A. from Colorado College in 1973, and studied in the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program. He has received grants from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, among other organizations. He has been artist-in-residence at the University of Colorado, Minnesota College of Art and Design, and Illinois State University. Smith's videotapes have been broadcast widely; his videotapes and installations have been exhibited internationally at festivals and institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the 2008 Whitney Biennial, New York; Leo Castelli Gallery, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Long Beach Museum of Art, CA; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA; Centre d'art Neuchatel, Switzerland; Documenta 8, Kassel, Germany; the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; and SculptureCenter, Long Island City, New York.

The retrospective Mike's World: Michael Smith & Joshua White (and other collaborators) opened at the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Texas in 2007, and traveled to the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA in 2008. The following year, SculptureCenter in New York presented A Voyage of Growth and Discovery, a collaborative video installation by Michael Smith and Mike Kelley that included one of Smith's alter egos, Baby Ikki.

Michael Smith is the recipient of numerous awards, including fellowships from the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, as well as four National Endowment for the Arts grants. Since 2001, he has taught at the University of Texas at Austin.

Smith lives in Austin, Texas and Brooklyn, New York. -- EAI

Michael Smith in UbuWeb Sound