Michael E. Smith


Michael E. Smith’s sculptures convey a contemporary American gothic sensibility, conjuring a world of woodsheds and Walmarts and long winters when the mind can wander. His economical use of materials is matched by the deadpan descriptions of them on the checklist. A group of large metal light fixtures stands upright on the floor, one adorned with a collection of small but menacing fish encased in resin (“fish, plastic, lights”). A snow shovel head is topped with a sawed-off beak (“stork, shovel”). Displayed under bare fluorescent lights, the works, though spare, are still more physically assertive than Smith’s past pieces, which could almost disappear into a room. Here, a rubber hose spans one entire wall of the gallery, dipping in the middle like a wide “M” or a pair of wings. A fabric tube filled with shoe soles spans another wall, worming along the ground. A video displayed at knee-level near the entrance was apparently shot in a bathtub. Placed underwater, the camera captures someone shuffling around in white tube socks and mismatched Nikes. The standard-definition footage is identified, per art-world convention, as “found.” It might be more accurately described as “lost,” adrift in the psychic space of Smith’s weird America. —William S. Smith


Pictured: Michael E. Smith: Untitled, 2016, SD video with found footage, color and sound, 16 min. Courtesy Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York.