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 Michael Smith  (1951 - )

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Lived/Active: New York/Illinois      Known for: installation, performance art, video

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Michael Smith is known for his comidic video and performance series about the character, Mike, a "bland everyman who putters around the house in his boxers, assessing the leftovers from the fridge, ironing, fiddling with the TV set---in essence, a guy who tries in earnest to stick to an underwhelming to-do list."  In 2008, Mike's World,  a piece conceived by Smith and his cohort, Joshua White, was the title of a 2008 traveling museum exhibition that was launched at the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Texas, and ended at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia.

Smith created the persona of 'Mike" in the 1970s because it was a subject that he thought both he and a large audience would relate to---"the human equivalent of a supermarket generic brand."

In 1996, Smith began working with White, a video production artist who founded the Joshua Light Show in 1967.  Their first collaborative video installation was Mus-Co: 1969-1997, and then a series with 'Mike' as a hardware store owner's son has provided many stories of this very common young man, who, in these episodes, took up producing psychedelic light shows to get away from his dominant father. 

Also in 2008, Smith did a series of photographs and performances at the Whitney, Sears Class Portraits, with the artist posing with classmates at the University of Texas at Austin.  For Fall, 2009, a collaborative video with Mike Kelley is planned at the Sculpture Center in Long Island City.

Michael Smith was raised in Chicago, and began creating artwork as a student at the University of Colorado in Boulder.  At first, his style was Abstract Expressionism, but he tired of that, and took up video and performance art as a result of visiting comedy clubs in Chicago.  In 1975, he was invited to perform at the Whitney Museum in New York, and the positives of this experience led him to move to New York City.

Lamar Clarkson, "Antihero in Boxers', ARTnews, September 2008, pp. 132-135

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