Activities, exhibitions and projects

Melanie Smith. Farsa y Artificio

Melanie Smith. Farce and Artifice

MACBA Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona

Image: Melanie Smith, My world, 1995 - C-Print - Courtesy of the artist

Melanie Smith (b.1965) was born in the UK, but established her career in the Mexican art scene of the 1990s. Having lived and worked in Mexico City since 1989, Smith represented Mexico at the Venice Biennale in 2011. She arrived in Mexico fresh from the contradictions of Thatcher’s Britain, marked on the one hand by the dismantling of the industrial past and on the other by the transformation to a service economy that had seen a boom ending in recession. In Mexico she witnessed the layering of capitalist modernisation, failed modernity, impoverishment with hyper-consumerism, more traditional forms of manufacture and an informal economy. Thus the contrast between where she comes from and where she lives now subtly informs her work.

Since the 1980s, Smith has addressed interrelated themes in her work that range from the effects and detritus of industrialisation, the economies and aesthetics of abstraction, and urbanisation, colonialism, and, more recently, nature and entropy. In Smith’s work, the markets for cheap plastic goods in Mexico City become at once a testament to the dominance of neoliberal economies, but also to the existence of alternative markets and means of circulation. Furthermore, they become the basis of an investigation of abstraction – the monochrome – in relation to the city, histories of the avant-garde, modernism, indigenism and forms of nationalism. Ultimately, through her work she performs an archaeology of modernism and modernity.

MACBA presents the largest and most comprehensive institutional exhibition of the artist’s work in Europe to date, encompassing the full breadth of media the artist has embraced from her early sculptural works, assemblages, reliefs and paintings to her work in video, photography and installation.

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