Melanie Smith

Melanie Smith, Maria Elena (film still), 2018. Photo: Julien Devaux

Melanie Smith, Maria Elena (film still), 2018. Photo: Julien Devaux

Melanie Smith (b. 1965, Poole, England) lives and works in Mexico City. Trained as a painter, Smith explores the extended field of painting within the history of art and its relation to the moving image. In early pieces she illustrates varying forms of urban environments, especially cities and metropolitan areas. Her current work critically reflects on today’s industrial society, pointing towards the precariousness and violence occurring on city outskirts. 

For Liverpool Biennial 2018, Melanie Smith will present her new film Maria Elena. The title of the film is taken from a hexagon-shaped town of the same name situated in the Atacama Desert, South America; one of the world’s driest deserts. The settlement is connected to the oldest salt mine in Chile, which was owned by the Guggenheim family in the 1920s. The film combines fragmented narratives of the colonial past with the dusty present of the salt mine. It presents the industry and its scale from different viewpoints, from the crystalline to the vast open galaxy. Maria Elena is a sister project to the artist’s film Fordlandia (2014), a study of Henry Ford’s former rubber factory in the Amazon rainforest. The film further explores Smith’s interest in the industrial expansion in the Americas during the 20th century and its relationship to violence and crime. For the UK premiere of Maria Elena, the artist will work with related objects and paintings to create a specific display for the film.

Recent exhibitions include Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, Germany (2016); Tamayo Museum, Mexico City, Mexico (2015); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, USA (2014); Tate Liverpool, Liverpool, UK (2009); Tate Modern, London, UK (2006); and MoMA PS1, New York, USA (2002). In 2011 she represented Mexico at the 54th Venice Biennale, Italy. A survey of her work was shown at Milton Keynes Gallery, UK (2014), Contemporary Art Centre (CAC), Vilnius, Lithuania (2014); and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands (2014).


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