Vested Histories: Shinique Smith
BALE VARIANT NO 12, 2005.
Painting suffers an ongoing romance with itself, and its own history; fabric’s attractions are always to someone else. An intrinsically disembodied medium, fabric connotes apparel. Yet what it suggests—nudity and erotic intimacy; the line in the sand between profanity and propriety—seems too loaded to be properly unpacked. Fabric seems to always ask “who?” As in: who wore it, owned it, discarded it, designed it, sweatshopped it, mass-marketed it, knocked it off, etc. When fabric is used in the construction of an artwork, this whisper of “who” follows the work, disrupt the object’s autonomy.
39-year-old Brooklyn-based artist Shinique Smith is well known for innovatively combining readymade and non-art materials for assemblage that could be described as embodying the “Unmonumental” aesthetic (Smith’s work was exhibited in the New Museum’s 2007 show of the same name). Now, her work is set to be exhibited in her first large-scale comprehensive US retrospective, opening at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami on September 16. Smith is exhibiting pieces primarily from the past 10 years, and in a recent studio visit I was greeted with a few of the stars of the show, including a newer work comprised of a disemboweled stuffed toy lion strapped to a speaker and coated with fabric and gold lacquer.
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