Kiki Smith: Squatting the Palace (2006)



Directed by: Vivien Bittencourt and Vincent Katz     Edited by: Tom Piper     Color-45 minutes
© 2006 Cherkerboard Foundation, INC. New York, NY





     This film takes a circular approach to an artist who works in overlapping spirals of creative energy. Smith works in her home — not in a space specifically designed as a studio but on the 2nd floor of her East Village townhouse. There, amid her books, a pet bird, and tiny kitchenette, Smith goes from drawing to collaging to modeling clay to painting plaster casts and back, again and again, moving from one discipline to another in a way that can seem aimless to a casual observer, but which is actually the modus operandi of a highly sophisticated visual artist.
        Over the course of the film, it becomes apparent that many of the pieces Smith is creating — including sculptures, photographs, prints, and furniture fashioned from liquor boxes — are intended for an eight-room installation at the Fondazione Querini Stampalia in Venice, Italy, to open contemporaneously with the 2005 Venice Biennale. We see Smith collaborating with artisans fabricating her sculptures and observe her daily interactions with her assistants. We then follow Smith to Venice and witness the complex installation of her exhibition, which proves to be an integral part of the conceptual whole. The video culminates in a detailed look at the completed exhibition, Homespun Tales: Stories of Domestic Occupation, widely regarded as one of the most successful exhibitions that summer in Venice.
      Kiki Smith’s work in sculpture, prints and drawings has been the subject of numerous museum and gallery exhibitions worldwide. Her graphic work was celebrated in Kiki Smith: Prints, Books, and Things at MoMA, New York, and a mid-career survey, A Gathering: 1980-2005, organized by the Walker Art Center, traveled to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.


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Kiki Smith drawing in her New York studio.

Kiki Smith

Kiki Smith and Chiara Bertola applying a stencil to wall of the Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venice

Porcelain sculpture by Kiki Smith

Painted porcelain sculpture by Kiki Smith

Kiki Smith

Two porcelain sculptures by Kiki Smith.

Kiki Smith sculpting in clay in her Ner York studio

Kiki Smith sculpting in clay in her NY studio.

Kiki Smith and her sister, Beatrice.

Kiki Smith's hands molding a leaf from clay.

Reflection of the Fondazione Querini Stampalia in Venice.

Kiki Smith instaling cast iron sculptures for her exhibition in Venice.

Kiki Smith

Kiki Smith

Kiki Smith sculpting in clay in her Ner York studio