Thursday, June 01, 2006

mike smith

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


1:14 PM  
Anonymous Nils said...

der uber mensch besetzt...uber alles.

3:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice color, bad execution and idea.

7:46 PM  
Blogger redandgreen said...

Why is it shown a living room? It is hard to look at this as a serious piece of art in that context.

7:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I actually disagree with you guys completley. F#@& the color.. but great execution and idea. It is so unpretentious, available and actually really poignant. Love the curtains, the couches, the blue carpet. It is so abysmal and average that it becomes important and interesting.

10:57 PM  
Anonymous nolan simon said...

Bad execution and IDEA??? You seriously typed "bad idea" and got to the publish your comment button before realizing what an asinine thing that is to send out into the ether? Do you feel you have such a solid grasp on the "idea(s)" going on in this image to throw the word BAD out there???

I really need you to qualify that statement!

12:01 AM  
Blogger Brad said...

Okay, Nolan, if the idea is so great why don't you explain it to us instead of looking down your nose in contempt at those who don't get it?

Smith has been posting that same picture around for how long? Months? A year? Longer? You'd at least think he'd change the clothes for something more appropriate for summer.

Anybody looking at this from outside the context of Mike's and your superior education can only come to one conclusion: it's stupid. It's not even a good photograph of a stupid idea, but then you probably think that just anybody can take a picture easily enough.

I'm really looking forward to your explanation of the hidden meaning of this thing. Take your time. I'm going to make popcorn right now.

10:19 AM  
Anonymous blogger said...

koons with clothes.

11:33 AM  
Anonymous leo king said...

koons with clothes

11:33 AM  
Anonymous jef said...

to red/green:

hirst once said that he could run outside his gallery and scoop up a hunk of dogshit on a popsicle stick, bring it back in and put it on a pedestal -- and it would be art, no questions asked.

so more power to mike for the out-of-art context and setting.

but then you're asked the harder questions found here, "what makes it art" -- because your work is no longer in protective territory.

more power for that too.

11:38 AM  
Blogger cmcgraw said...

i think it is truthful,

12:15 PM  
Anonymous Peter Pantless said...

it sucks. but on the same hand, if you move the hose to another hole it now blows.

Seriously, it is interesting, like a 1 dollar steak, i'm still digesting it. although i'm not sure if this would be classed as photography or if it is sculpture. If it is sculpture, is the background clutter part of the work? or is the background unintentional?
What was the intended theory behind the photo? Was the item "found" and then documented, or was it built? If it was built, why was a living room picked. Why not another room of the house. Why not outside?
I would love to ask some questions one on one. I went to Nolan's talk at the DIA and it was enlightning to here his theories and personal choices as to why he did certain things on certain works.

12:35 PM  
Anonymous brian said...

I think there may be something wrong with the direction the dialogue regarding Mike's work is going. We have one group saying it is "DUMB", and the other saying how interesting and challenging or bold it is; the problem is that neither is qualifying those statements in such a way as to be either convincing or stimulating a meaningful discussion. I will not tear down this work. I want to understand where it originates from and I have not seen it in person. Those who immediately attack, only fuel the atomosphere that allows this work to thrive; one in which buzz and emotional response, be it possitive or negative, can create a spectacle. The same is true of those who rush to defend the validity of the work without providing any conceptual, theoretical or even personal basis by which to validate it. I would also like to hear Mike talk about his work; not necessarily DEFEND his work, but talk about his intent and artistic values. In response to comments that applaud works like this for being unpretentious by shifting the context of the work and making it available, I would point out that this work being intellectually "available" to such a minute group necessitate it being pretentious. If you want work that is available and unpretentious, see the work in the show "The Interventionsists", work that stems from social motivations rather than simply trying to undermine, challenge or question the significance of art itself; in its production, display and consumption. Questioning the context and accessibility of art is not new and only remains pertinent because of the emotional response from individuals. My stance is that if you want to undermine any aspect of the institution that is the art world, it is best served by taking a stance in a given direction, rather than making ambiguous aesthetic or conceptual statements, on either side of the issue

1:10 PM  
Blogger cmcgraw said...

open mined

2:50 PM  
Blogger John Azoni said...

I've never really understood Mike's work. But just because I don't understand it doesn't mean it's not good. And whoever goes around saying that somebody's "idea's" are stupid should not be taken seriously. Are only good ideas/concepts really deep?

I don't think it's enough for Mike to just put work up like this and say "figure out something for yourself" because to me, with work so confusing, I just don't care to figure it out. If I saw this in a gallery I wouldn't spend more than 5 seconds with the piece. There's something beautiful about conceptual art like this, but for Mike's work, in all honesty, I feel as though he just throws a bunch of random crap together and has no explanation for it other than "just walk around the space and talk about it". And I only say this because I have asked him about his work before and I was told "I don't really like to talk about my work".

So without an explanation, and a presentation that doesn't interest me at all, and left with the choice of not caring because it's speaks nothing to me.

But again, that doesn't mean it's bad and to flat out call something dumb is just lazy.

3:18 PM  
Anonymous jim said...

isn't saying you'd only give a piece 5 seconds to explain itself pretty lazy?

3:43 PM  
Blogger redandgreen said...

I would really like to hear what Mike has to say about this work, not because I'm too lazy to think for myself or not interested enough to give it more than 5 seconds of my time, but because I think that it would point this discussion in a more productive direction.
Also - I would like to know why "nils" posted the comment about lasik eye surgery.
I decided to take it seriously (even though perhaps it was a bizarre criticism?) and thought it was a different way to view the piece..

5:17 PM  
Anonymous the blogger said...

let me ammend: mike kelley meets koons.

6:40 PM  
Anonymous DRE said...

I find it amazing how many people take the time to comment on your negitive thoughts. In mikes case most of the 18 comments he has receved have been thoughtless and even predictable. If mikes work is good or bad it has gotten more attention than most and mabey that is what he is trying to do? Although mikes work does not do much for me i still think he has something here. Anyway i think he got into yale graduate program with work such as this? now that does not nessesaraly meen the work is strong or great but you have to respect the opinion of such a school.

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is anyone else dying to see what work he sent with his application to Yale? Was this in the portfolio?

7:33 PM  
Anonymous Curtis said...

Obviously art which asks the question, "what is art?" is far outdated and uninteresting. Why is this? Because the question has been answered. Anything is potentially art. Art would be a better word were it to be a verb, or more a state of being. All things are potentially infintely interesting.

From my impression this work does not intend to ask that old question. Instead it takes that answer as a given and goes with it. If I take as a given that anything is art and another given that all aspects of this work (or at least the majority) have been either created with intention or acknowledged with intention (or ignored with intention) I then have the chance to decode the work.

In the decoding of Mike's work I am suprised to come to realizations and though (or perhaps because) they are not usually (or ever) one's typical "deep" realizations but instead are thoughts along the lines of "I've seen that shirt before in another piece" or, "the color of that hat is complimentary to the vacuum," I still feel a sense of excitement in having cracked the surface of some infinite code.

The casual sense of some of the work (not all of takes that stance) is simply another signifier to the unending meaning of the piece. It is not better or worse, but simply informative.

I do not think this work attempts to declare an original category. It is nothing so broad. It talks only of itself and how it's individual elements relate to the rest of Mike's work and the areas in which they are found.

8:02 PM  
Anonymous Curtis said...

Or something...

8:05 PM  
Anonymous mike smith said...

i found this exact accumulation of clothes/hat on a vacum in a closet and brought it out for my family to look at. took a picture because i thought it was worth one.

what i/we do is more than objects. more than craft, technique or history. more than rhetoric and over blown conceptualization. nils was right on - it's about seeing, for me anyway.

no one piece i have ever done is worthy of any long winded explanation, but i am allways willing to have a conversation.

also brian, nice comments.
i am most definitely not interested in undermining or challenging anything other than my self. i just happen to work in a community that finds what i do to be difficult. truthfully, i feel that art education and the specificity of current "conversations" here, and abroad, many times clouds our ability to be imaginative. no one gives them selves away - to busy looking for smart answers - and quick ones at that.

734 776 0669

4:57 AM  
Anonymous mike smith said...

attn john azoni

you need to speak less and listen more. please never qoute me again unless it is the truth.

5:06 AM  
Anonymous dirty said...

i have a vacuum and use it for a
coat hanger also

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


In this forumn your work may be even more difficult to digest then in a gallery environment or any other because when looking at what's already been posted on the site,its obvious that most of it is invested in various techniques that require more time and a different type of effort that you are not concerned with when generating your work (only judging by this one piece of course.)

You must have expected the reaction you've recieved? I actually took your submittal as a deliberate challenge to the forumn until reading your explanation of the work.

I like open critiques where the artist states nothing about the work, but placing this specific piece in this context, without having it in our presence where we can physically interact with it and interpret other signifiers of meaning, shifts the interpretation of the work far from what you intended to denote.

This piece seems to require that we experience it in its natural or so called "average" environment. When its documented instead of experienced first hand the meaning shifts tremendously.

I will admit that I made the comment "bad execution and idea." It was shortsighted and blunt of me to do so and I apologize but i think I also made it because of the difficulties I suggested above.

In an effort to "qualify my statement," I believe its important for artists to control the meaning of their work and how their ideas are interpreted as much as possible, otherwise other people, such as critics, dealers, and your audience will do it for you in way that might be far away from what you intended. That doesn't mean every piece of art has to have a cut and dry meaning of x=y,but too much ambiguity can hurt you just as much as help you.

Sincerely, Brian

10:24 AM  
Anonymous peter pantless said...

hey hey. i like the story behind the art that mike gave. it helps me enjoy it. So it wasnt "built" and it is more a documentation of an entire family and their habits. My family too had a vacuum that was used as a coat hanger. The fact that you dug it out like some POW and marched it into the light is cool, I would have never thought to have done it. Besides, you have to be young enough to have a room with ma and pa with 2 or more bro's or sis's. I moved out in 88. It appears to be very midwestern so it speaks to the community. this work is great because it is simple yet communicates volumes about family, habits, style (look at the funiture) and consumer ideals (the amount of clothes). I think everyone can shut up now. Mike has spoken and the piece stands strongly.

Mike u da man.

11:19 AM  
Anonymous Curtis said...

Peter Pantless,

True, that story is interesting and yet I'm struggling over whether I like that Mike said it or not. The trouble I've found is actually in the story being interesting. After having heard it, if one is to now present this work in that context, the sculpture becomes an illustration of the story, and of the larger social metaphors present in the story. The story does not add to the image. The image adds to the story. So suddenly all the details of this work that do not appear to be relevant to the story dissapear.

I loved those details. Before the story, this art did not mimic language but mimicked nature. When one finds a piece of bark in the woods, because one does not attempt to read it like a sentance one has the freedom to enjoy every line and pore, to make sentances about it, and to have leave with no committed meaning beyond "it is what it is."

2:27 PM  
Anonymous brian said...

Hey anony-mouse perhaps you should stop commenting if all you can do is hide behind attaching my, or others names to your comments. Realize you too have self worth and your oppinions are valid! We all love you.

3:53 PM  
Anonymous brian said...

Mike, I found your comments very helpful in begining to grasp this work, or at least it gives me a way in which to approach it. Thanks.

3:54 PM  
Blogger cmcgraw said...

is it art?

1:24 AM  
Blogger Brad said...

Thanks for showing up and explaining some of your thought process to us, Mike, but you still haven't given us a reason why anybody should care. If it's just something that you pulled out of your closet to share with your family, that's fine, but does it really justify all the thousands of dollars spent on art school and making the rest of us suffer through this?

If you're trying to stimulate a dialogue you've succeeded with over 30 comments here, but that's a perplexing goal for somebody who doesn't like to discuss his art. I can't help wonder how you got through art school critiques without defending your work, or how you expect to bullshit the faculty at Yale with silence, but I suppose that if you leave your "work" open to interpretation it can be fun to just sit back and watch.

I think I've deciphered what you're trying to say, and it's that contemporary art and art school are essentially meaningless and anybody can do it. I agree with your statement.

10:08 AM  
Blogger cmcgraw said...


11:03 AM  
Anonymous Nolan Simon said...

"Why should I care?" You shouldn't. Caring about art is irrelevant. Whether it's student work or the work of a "master," you don't need to care about it and more to the point, whether you care or not is unimportant.

If you (just) feel like the process is lacking, perhaps it is (just) out of ignorance of art history - there's definitely no lacking of precidence, or perhaps you (just) don't like the outcome in this instance...whatever the reason, take solice in the notion that you don't need to care. No one will think less of you for opting out. And, it's probably for the better. These kinds of semantic dead-ends have no place in honest conversations about art.

11:32 AM  
Anonymous nick said...

art history has nothing to do with new art and a first approach to such fresh work by the public.

it's like saying you can never truly appreciate music unless you're a musician.

the beauty of the best new art is that it has no history. no labels.

we, the viewer, create it ourselves. and if no first impressions are realized then the art has failed.

history is created later, over time, through a collusion with artist and historian/academician.

different, and perhaps opposed to history, there is an art language we may learn over time through greater usage and exposure .... but which is not necessary for an initial understanding/engagement/conversation with new work.

in the end new art speaks for itself, not the artist. and if it has no voice then there can be no dialogue. and is mute.

1:42 AM  
Anonymous jef said...

Maybe "mute" but not necessarily "dumb".

1:43 AM  
Anonymous Curtis said...

A work's art historical reference either matters or doesn't entirely based on the artist's intended viewer-ship. And there is no ultimate ideal viewer-ship. So it's perfectly legitimate to make work solely for an art historically minded audience and perfectly legitimate to throw art history out the window.

There certainly is some music that one would have a hard time entering without some knowledge of the craft and/or history of music.

And art never fails in any ultimate way. It always succeeds at doing something. Perhaps it can fail at doing what the artist intended. Yet it still does something in spite of that. What bothers me most about your statement was the remark about first impressions. First impressions are only valuable for as long as they last. Some of my favorite work has been that which turned me off at first (or that turned me on in all the wrong ways.)

And Brad,
"...making the rest of us suffer through this"?

What the fuck man? There was absloutely no imposition on anyone's part to "suffer through" anything.

1:27 AM  
Anonymous nick said...

but art fails all the time. and that's what's glorious about it. the really good artists are encouraged to fail, and that's what makes them admirable. they are often the greatest.

"all art succeeds." that's a simple statement. all art does not succeed. to make a historical reference, "if it did, then none of it would succeed."

and if only art students can appreciate art then it is already dead.

11:50 AM  
Blogger cmcgraw said...

i still am unsure if it is even art, arent you all? a little unsure?

12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's to be unsure about? It's not even an interesting failure.

12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

youre not even an interesting failure

2:35 PM  
Anonymous Oswald Analrift said...

The whole family concept that this work breeds warm memories rushing over me like too much novacain at the dentist's office. My father had the softest hands and would "punish" me for not properly placing my coat in the closet when i came home from Catechism. Oh, he made the reddest indian burns on my thighs. Mom would sometimes join in with cries of drunken joy (She enjoyed her brandy). Let me tell you, those loose coats on that dirt sucker would have had my hide tanned. I'm glad to see it though. It is crazy how some families work together in creating art. Kind of like my pastel nudes of my grand parent's genitals. Family makes the art seem better.

4:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

like has already been said, this is in the same vein as jeff koon's early piece. however, i think this still seems unfinished. i wonder if the art is meant to be part of the setting, or if it is meant to be independent. if what some bloggers have said about the artist being warholian and not wanting to 'talk about his art' then i also have to say this piece seems hastily comprised, but if that is just an act by the artist to create deeper contemplation, then it is a good concept. there seems to be a thin line

10:47 PM  
Blogger craigpaulnowak said...

One thing that I've always liked about Mike's work is that it consistently generates an equal negative/positive or (because negative is not in all cases the most accurate term especially in the event of an art critique) an equal questioning/appreciating response. That feels important to me. If someone likes the art then that's great. If someone hates the art then that is also great, but if nobody cares enough to respond whether negative or positive or if the responses are completely one-sided, then my question is, why do we continue to "make things?" For ourselves? Then why do we show them?

What Mike is doing is inspiring. While the majority of the negative comments appear to be either uneducated or unjustified, they are comments none-the-less. And they tend to generate a need to have a reverse response. They make me look and think and look and think.

I appreciate Mike's work. I didn't at first, but that was because I was looking for something so deep that I became unaware of what was happening on the surface. Just look at it. Is it just a photo? Is it a sight-specific installation? Did Mike set up the entire sight and everything that you see is the installation (we know this isn't the case)?

I don't think this process is about the answers. So long as you are looking for answers, you won't find them. Just look then leave it. Let it resonate then respond.

Maybe it's about subtle nuances within everyday life...

I'm just sitting back laughing with joy right now. Failure? How could this be a failure? It made people stop didn't it? It made them think, and even more, it made them respond. That's a brilliant sucess to me even if it is a failure...

I can't tell you how many times I've passed up so-called "good" works of art completely uninterested leaving absolutely no response to be considered.

1:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good art polarizes.

This peice reminds me of the victorian fascination with photographing the corpses at funerals. This reminds me of those funerary "keepsakes", creepy but definitly worth thought.

2:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

acording to the art book of america the term "dada" meens to take an ordanary object and place it in an area that it is out of context. so to comment on someones dada coment i dont remember who? this cannot be considerd dada art in my opinion becouse it is within its own context? but i still like it none the less. craig has a good point too.

11:45 AM  
Anonymous jef said...

i'm just throwing this out without any preface:

At the time of the opening of Tate Modern - London's temple to contemporary art - a story swept the press. A visitor had reportedly dropped his wallet in a gallery. Realising this, he went back into the room to find a crowd gathered admiringly round the leather rectangle. When he stooped to retrieve his possession, an attendant rebuked him for touching an exhibit.

Whether or not it happened, this anecdote fast became the sardonic gospel of the enemies of modern art, filed alongside similar legends of gallery cleaners accidentally chucking out what they assumed to be rubbish on the building floor but were in fact the famous Turner-shortlisted work Garbage.

1:39 AM  
Anonymous jef said...

this story hit the news this week:

David Hensel, a sculptor from Sussex, submitted to the Royal Academy summer exhibition a piece that consisted of a large bronze laughing head mounted on a plinth of slate and kept in place by a support shaped like a bone.

In unpacking the laughing head had been misplaced and Hensel was represented in the exhibition by what looked like a dog's toy (the support) on a paving stone.

The Hensel event tops even the wallet story as proof that art historians would believe that a fart was art if a man in a bow tie told them it was (a reference to Graham Beal?).

David Mach, a juror for the summer show, was even on record praising the "minimalist" qualities of the bone-on-slab display.

And as the faces of traditionalists aped the roaring mouth of Hensel's missing head they were given even more cause to cackle when it turned out that the bronze head had not simply been left behind in a storeroom but had gone before the selectors as a separate art-work and been rejected.

Yet another bone thrown to the anti-modernist dogs is the fact that the pedestal with the bit on top is now expected to sell for far more than the original price of the whole combination.

1:43 AM  
Anonymous federline said...

Serious Art can never be shown in a living room. Don't you know the art rules?!?!?

4:08 PM  

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