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The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City has selected Michael Smith, assistant professor of transmedia and performance at the University of Texas in the Department of Art & Art History, to be one of 81 artists featured in the 2008 Whitney Biennial, the museum's signature exhibition and most important survey of the state of contemporary art in the United States today. To be chosen for this exhibition recognizes Smith's established importance and influence on younger artists.
Smith's 30–year artistic career includes live performance, video works, commercial and cable television skits, puppet shows, exhibition installations, comic publications and drawings. Smith has an impressive exhibition and performance history that began in the late 1970s, with venues as varied as the Pompidou Center, the Kitchen, Franklin Furnace, the Whitney, Randolph St. Gallery, DTW, Cinemax, the Corcoran and the New Museum. In recent years, Smith's work has been shown in São Paolo, Copenhagen, Milan, London and Cambridge.
The 2008 Whitney Biennial begins March 6 and runs through June 1. Henriette Huldisch and Shamim Momin are leading the curatorial team for the exhibition, overseen by Donna De Salvo, the Whitney's chief curator and associate director of programs. This will be the 74th in the series of Whitney Annual and Biennial exhibitions inaugurated by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1932. Three advisors will lend their expertise: director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, Thelma Golden; director of the media arts department at the Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University, Bill Horrigan; and curator and writer, Linda Norden.
As noted by De Salvo, “The Biennial is a laboratory, a way of taking the temperature of what is happening now and putting it on view. It influences our thinking on multiple levels and, for the Whitney, translates directly into the choices we make about our exhibitions and collections.”
Smith's work recently was the focus of Mike's World, which debuted at The Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin, and will travel to the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania later this year. Mike's World features 30 years of videos, installation environments, and other performance–related materials detailing the adventures of “Mike,” a sweet but hapless Everyman character created by Smith, in his hilariously awkward and ineffectual search for a piece of the American Dream. Joshua White collaborated with Smith on this exhibition curated by Annette Carlozzi, curator of American and contemporary art at The Blanton.
Troy Brauntuch, associate professor of painting in the Department of Art & Art History at the University of Texas at Austin, was a featured artist in the 2006 Whitney Biennial. Brauntuch's work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally for over 30 years and is included in numerous private and public collections.
New York Times article, “Whitney Biennial Stretches to the Armory”