Kiki Smith: Squatting the Palace

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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, amidst 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 may seem aimless to a casual observer, but 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 Stamplia in Venice to open contemporaneously with the 2005 Venice Biennale.

We watch Smith collaborate with the 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 film culminates in a detailed look at the completed exhibition, Homespun Tales: Stories of Domestic Occupation, widely regarded as one of the most successful Venice Biennale exhibitions.

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