The exhibition, titled Atlas de Ausencias (‘atlas of absences’), presents a series of paintings that
recreate details and fragments of emblematic paintings by these artists. The partial
reconstruction of the images gives rise to both revelations and concealments of
meaning. The complex Flemish canvases are presented as intricate, unfinished systems
that still have much to reveal about the politics of the body and representation in our
The dialogue with this specific moment in the history of representation finds what is
perhaps its most radical moment in the tableaux vivants series from the project
Obscuridades Bucólicas (‘bucolic darknesses’), exhibited this year at La Tallera in the
city of Cuernavaca (Mexico). In this project, Smith reactivates works from both Flemish
painters with actors that reconstruct the scenes while nine surveillance cameras record
the action. La Caja Negra includes a photography series that provides an account of the
action’s complexity and the way in which Smith weaves the relationships between the
still image, the moving image and the action.
A new graphic edition, which links to the paintings based on fragments from Bruegel the
Elder and Bosch, will be presented at the exhibition. It is a series of eight works for
which a special printing technique using natural pigments on layers of gesso has been
Melanie Smith (1965 | Poole, England) has lived and worked in Mexico City since 1989. This
experience has influenced her work. Her art is characterized by a reinterpretation of the formal
and aesthetical categories of the avant-garde and post avant-garde movements which unfolds
within the horizons of heterotopias. Her production is intimately linked to an expanded vision of
modernity with a relation both to what the term means in Latin America—particularly in
Mexico—and to the involvement of its formal explorations as a critical moment in the aestheticpolitical
structure of Modernity.
In her early work she addressed the political and aesthetical implications of crowds, violence and
the aberrant forms of the periphery of contemporaneity. This is evidenced in videos such as
Estadio Azteca – Proeza maleable, Xilitla (2010), Bulto (2011) and Elevator (2012).
Her work is found in collections all over the world such as the Arnold and Mabel Backman
Foundation, California | USA; the British Council, London | England; Cisneros Fontanals Art
Foundation, Miami | USA; the ARCO foundation, Madrid; Isabel and Agustín Coppel, Culiacan |
Mexico; the Jumex collection, Mexico City; the Institut Valencià d’Art Moderne, IVAM, Valencia;
The Museum of Modern Art, New York or the Tate Modern, London, among others.
Her work has been exhibited in numerous national and international institutions, including the
following: PS1, New York, UCLA’S Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; ICA, Boston; Tate Liverpool;
Tate Mordern, London; South London Gallery, London; CAMH, Houston; Milton Keynes; CCA,
Vilnius; Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Museo de Arte de Lima; Museo Tamayo,
Mexico City, Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo and Museo Experimental El Eco,
Mexico City; and Museo de Monterrey. In 2011 she represented Mexico at its national pavilion in
the 54th Venice Biennale.