i eagerly await the opening of this exhibition & an excuse to make it back over to my local brooklyn art museum. her traveling retrospective, “a gathering”, is one of my favorites of the last few years at the whitney museum & the award for most eerie and fairy-tale like installations i’ve seen hands down goes to smith, whose installation “homespun tales: a tale of domestic occupation” ran in conjunction with the venice biennale held in 2005 at the fondazione querini stampalia. like a feminized, scaled-down version of juan munoz’s grouped figures, homepsun tales featured a series of rooms installed in the palazzo, with smith’s highly imaginative and surrealistic scenarios involving girls and bird-women and dainty furnishings arranged in intimate, solemn convocations and described in reviews as an admixture of “renaissance mythology and colonial folk art.”
there’s something about her dainty, luminescent, oddly proportioned and enraptured figures that makes you feel like a clumsy voyeur. they’re playful but not really humorous, detailed yet whitewashed, serious in their ordinariness, frozen in ritual. quite wry. similar in narrative to amy cutler’s drawings and remind me for some reason of one of my mother’s books that i loved growing up, anne sexton’s transformations. the biennale that year was “feminist” art laced: jenny holzer, the guerrilla girls, barbara kruger. lots of good stuff, plus i was going through a deep lucian freud phase who also had an exhibit in conjunction with the biennale at the museo correr. that magical floating city could not have been a better backdrop for smith’s work– something about the whole trip felt very special, peculiar, fantastical.