LA CAJA NEGRA
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The Constellation I series is made up of 6 photogravures that stem from different projects by the artist forming a constellation that echoes the way in which Smith has organized her recent exhibitions at MACBA (Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona), MUAC (University Museum of Contemporary Art of the National Autonomous University of Mexico), Museo Amparo (Puebla, Mexico) and MARCO (Museum of Contemporary Art of Monterrey).
The arrangement does not follow a chronological order, instead it revolves around some recurring themes in her practice -archaeology, nature, city, color, scale, body or abstraction- establishing both formal and meaningful relationships between them. The artist herself has defined her corpus as a "giant palimpsest".
Melanie Smith was born in the United Kingdom in 1965. Since the late eighties she has based her practice in Mexico City playing a pivotal role in the rise of the Mexican art scene of the 90’s. Both contexts - the Mexican or, in a broader sense, Latin American, and the British or, more extensively, the Eurocentric culture - are essential in her work.
Concepts such as nonsense, mockery, parody and artificiality are present in all her works. Both, the modes of development of neoliberal capitalism in Europe and the degradation of nature and the hyper-development of the informal economy in Mexico, are reflected in her work.
Image: Melanie Smith. Constellation I (B)
(b. 1964 Poole, United Kingdom)
Melanie Smith has lived and worked in Mexico City since 1989, an experience that has enormously influenced her works ever since. Her work has been characterized by a certain re- reading of the formal and aesthetic categories of avant-gardes and post- avant-garde movements, problematized at the sites and within the horizons of heterotopias. Her earlier pieces considered Mexico City itself, recording its multitudes, its violence, its banality, and its clandestine nature and at the same time its inherent decomposition.
The most outstanding piece from this cycle is the video Spiral City (2002). In another of her works, she broadens the notions of place and non-place by documenting the small town of Parres on the outskirts of the city. She produced a trilogy of 35mm films and a series of paintings and installations that rework the modernist idea of the monochromatic. Her production is intimately related to a critical view of modernity in Latin America: the relationship between precocity, life and different forms of violence in contemporary industrial society. In earlier works she has analyzed the aesthetic and political implications of multitudes, violence and the abnormal forms surrounding the contemporary.