Melanie Smith 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, Smith 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.

Melanie Smith’s film Maria Elena was presented at Bluecoat. The film takes its title from a town 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 further explores Smith’s interest in industrial expansion in the Americas during the 20th century and its relationship to violence and crime.

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).

Melanie Smith at Liverpool Biennial 2018

Maria Elena, 2018
Video, 24:22 min
Exhibited at Bluecoat