Since the 1980s, Melanie Smith has engaged with interrelated themes, encompassing the eects and detritus of industrialization, the economy, and the aesthetics of abstraction, urbanization, colonialism, and, more recently, nature and entropy. The exhibition Melanie Smith: Farce and Artifice was developed by the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) to incorporate the many dierent media in which she expresses herself, from her earliest sculptures, assemblages, reliefs, and paintings to her works in video, photography and installations.
Adapting this show for Museo Amparo and Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo has entailed focusing on an impulse that runs through her body of work namely, to dismantle and experiment with her own gaze as an artist/image-producer in spatiotemporal terms. Her exploration has generated new permutations of images that mix and blur the logics of the pictorial, cinematic and performance universe.
In her most recent work (e.g., Fordlandia, Skype, María Elena), Smith has occupied herself with the implications of experimenting with both physical and authorial distance. The project takes this research to a next level, turning the exhibition itself into an exercise of reflecting on the phenomenological conditions it generates. The works are displayed simultaneously in two cities, Puebla and Mexico City, and are connected by a system of crisscrossing gazes and references through peepholes that give live access to the other venue. A dialogue is thus constructed not only between two spaces, but also between dierent moments of Smith’s artistic production through winks and relationships that exist in the artist’s mental universe. Through the peepholes, Smith shares the space-time coordinates of that perspective with the visitor.
In a text about the work Farce and Artifice, which lends its title to this exhibition, Smith describes how she managed to create a window through which she herself became the voyeur of her “own meditated self.” In this case, the artifice is the distance that makes it possible to produce voyeuristic wormholes between the two spaces, an experiment that advances the artist's interest in the possibility of turning a multiple perspective into a singular one. For Smith a perspective of this nature must be sought on the surface. The sign is not in a supposed conceptual depth or in an artwork's geopolitical weight, but rather in its texture, its detail, its scale.