This spring, Milton Keynes Gallery presents the first major survey exhibition in the UK by Melanie Smith, one of Mexico’s most celebrated contemporary artists, including the premiėre of a new film, Fordlandia (2014), commissioned by MK Gallery.
Melanie Smith (born Poole, UK, 1965), has lived and worked in Mexico City for the last 25 years, and represented Mexico at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011. She works in a variety of media – painting and photography alongside film, video and installation - and exhibits regularly in the United States, Europe and Mexico, with works held in major museum collections worldwide.
This exhibition focuses on works made since 1994 that relate to the artist’s own experience of migration; travel, adventure and utopian aspiration combine with disorientation, dislocation and abstraction in the search for a brave new world. The video Spiral City (2002) shot from a helicopter as it circles above the urban sprawl of Mexico City shows an aerial view of the city’s streets and buildings slowly fading to white as the camera spirals higher and higher. The film Xilitla (2010) features the ‘Garden of Eden’ in the Mexican jungle populated with architectural follies by the British poet turned Surrealist collector, Edward James, between 1949 and 1984. The new film Fordlandia (2014) was shot in the Brazilian Amazon amidst the remains of an aborted city and rubber plantation built in the 1920s by the car manufacturer, Henry Ford.
Alongside these films, a number of large museological vitrines contain hundreds of objects, paintings, photographs, collages and clips that build up an accumulated and evocative material culture, where archaeological remains and personal records mingle with tourist souvenirs as the eager process of excavation and discovery melds into a faded and enigmatic sense of the past.
Melanie Smith trained as a painter and works in photography, installation, film and video. Her solo exhibitions include: Bulto, Museo de Arte de Lima, Lima, Peru (2011), Xilitla, El Eco, Mexico City, Mexico (2010) Parres-trilogy, Miami Art Museum, Miami Beach, USA, Six steps, San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, USA (2004) and Spiral city and other vicarious pleasures which toured from Mexico City to USA. She has produced three artist's books: Red Square Impossible Pink (2011), Parres (2008) and Spiral City and other vicarious pleasures (2006).