Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Kiki Smith

For me what make life and art interesting are the smooth and the striated. The inherent tensions, conflicts, opposites, pain, pleasure, pristine beauty and savage ugliness are what create the life force in the world and in art. Deleuze states, “ what interests us in operations of striation and smoothing are precisely the passages or combinations: how forces at work within space continually striate it, and how in the course of its striation it develops other forces and emits new smooth spaces.” Life and art cannot have the smooth without the striated; both experiences are born out of each other.

The work of the artist Kiki Smith greatly interests me and engages this contradictory process of smooth and striated. KiKi Smith is an American Feminist artist. Her work is imbued with political significance and embodies the conflicting images and metaphors of women living in today’s world. Kiki transports the female experience in her work by playing with a disturbing sense of integrity within the human body while revealing all of the awe and mystery of what it means to be a woman. An example of this is her depiction of the human body in her art: she will use handmade-paper or paper mache juxtaposed with truly visceral representations of flowing menstrual blood, dangling fetuses or placentas. Kiki Smith creates tension within the mind of the observer by engaging the smooth, (the delicate paper) with the striated (menstrual blood and placentas).

I think that what makes any work of art interesting is the engagement of the cognitive responses: combining the charged visceral aspects of a piece with the contemplative, overall theme or through line. To me this concept embodies the smooth and the striated.


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