Ludwig Forum Aachen announces Michael E. Smith exhibition

Ludwig Forum Aachen announces Michael E. Smith an exhibition on view April 21–June 23, 2013.

Michael E. Smith, Untitled, 2009. High-tops, foam, 15.2 x 20.3 x 30.5 cm. Courtesy Michael E. Smith and Susanne Hilberry Gallery, Detroit. Photo: Susanne Hilberry Gallery, Detroit.

Michael E. Smith, Untitled, 2009. High-tops, foam, 15.2 x 20.3 x 30.5 cm. Courtesy Michael E. Smith and Susanne Hilberry Gallery, Detroit. Photo: Susanne Hilberry Gallery, Detroit.

The series of site-specific works in the main hall of the Ludwig Forum, which began in 2011 with Susan Philipsz’s sound installation, will continue this spring with a project by the Detroit artist Michael Edward Smith, whose work has only been shown in Germany in a single institutional solo exhibition up until now.

Completed in situ, Smith’s works achieve a powerful synthesis between autonomy and linking references—the objects, images, and videos are the distillates of social dynamics, from which they draw their vitality as things.

The specific driving force behind this undertaking is Smith’s perception of the social decline in the US through which his hometown of Detroit, a city that as a consequence of the fatal economic collapse triggered by the demise of the automobile industry and the social segregation resulting from race riots, is at once a model of global fault lines and the epitome of an apocalypse in microcosm. The moment of assertion against the pressure of these conditions is materialized in the objects and is clearly apparent in the titles and video sequences.

The paintings, works on paper, sculptures and videos, which Smith has created for the exhibition over the past few months in New Hampshire and he brings together in the exhibition space to form a force field, only receive their definitive shape and emphasis upon being orchestrated on site. Very different materials are treated with tape, industrial foam, resins, oils, and varnishes, or are simply cut, dispensed with, and left “exposed” in the exhibition space. There they are not simply presented, but crawl behind piping, crouch atop neon strip lights, duck beneath ledges, or retreat from the emptiness of space into nooks and corners. With their “behavior” in space and their pronounced physicality—they resemble severed limbs or organic relics—they seem to be actually stalking the room rather than merely passively fitting in. Although this physicality feeds on the relationship these discarded materials once had with the human body, it is also manifest in the very materiality of the things themselves.

The staging of an autonomous, intrinsic, and sinister world of things generates an atmospherically dense field, where American society is mirrored in the disturbing potential of things.

The first publication on the work of Michael E. Smith will be released in conjunction with the exhibition. Featuring texts by Brigitte Franzen, Simone Menegoi, Dieter Roelstraete, Anna Sophia Schultz, and Chris Sharp. German / English, Aachen: Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, 2013. For the catalogue and exhibition, Michael E. Smith received the award “Kataloge für junge Künstler” of the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach-Stiftung 2012.

Michael E. Smith (b. 1977, Detroit) studied at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit and the Department for Sculpture, Yale University, with Jessica Stockholder from 2004 to 2006. His first solo exhibition with Kate Levant was held in 2007 in the Susanne Hilberry Gallery in Ferndale (Michigan). Since then his work has been featured extensively; for instance, at the Whitney Biennial (2012), the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco (2012), Culturgest in Lisbon (2012), and the Mönchehaus Museum Goslar (2011). Smith lives and works in Hopkinton, New Hampshire.

Ludwig Forum Aachen
Jülicher Straße 97-109
52070 Aachen, Germany