Interview with Melanie Smith – Padiglione Messico – 54th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia
Melanie Smith was born in Poole, England in 1965. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Reading. Since 1989 she has lived and worked in Mexico City, an experience that has enormously influenced her works ever since. Her work has been characterized by a certain re-reading of the formal and aesthetic categories of avant-gardes and post-avant-garde movements, problematized at the sites and within the horizons of heterotopias. Her production is intimately related to a certain expanded vision of the notion of modernity, maintaining a relationship both with what this means in Latin America, particularly in Mexico, and with the implication this has for her formal explorations as a critical moment in the aesthetic-political structure of modernity and late modernity.
Her earlier pieces considered Mexico City itself, recording its multitudes, its violence, its banality, and its clandestine nature and at the same time its inherent decomposition. The most outstanding piece from this cycle is the video Spiral city (2002). In another of her works, she broadens the notions of place and non-place by documenting the small town of Parres on the outskirts of the city. She produced a trilogy of 35mm films and a series of paintings and installations that rework the modernist idea of the monochromatic.
Red Square Impossible Pink is a sort of affective archaeology of modernity that allows us to understand the geo-aesthetics of modernity in contemporary societies from another perspective.
To Malevich’s Red Square, as a Suprematist formalization of utopia, Melanie Smith opposes the impossible pink as the unformed place of an historical realization of the projects of modernity. Red Square Impossible Pink spatializes a dialectical image that expresses the opposition between the possible and the impossible. If modernity is something more than the pure Eurocentric fiction of the relationship between history and utopia, if modernity is above all the history of colonial expansion, the square is no doubt something more than the possible and colors something more than their purity. Impossible Pink is an irony and a paradox, a distancing that seeks to dismantle utopias by exploring their heterotopic condition as logics of chaos. The three video pieces presented here were created in collaboration with Rafael Ortega. Their presentation in Venice involves the notion of emplacement as a dialectical play between ruins and chaos, an operation in which painting and installation function as spectral interventions between the Palazzo Rota Ivancich and the video pieces.