October 8, 2020 - Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne (MCBA) - Kiki Smith: Hearing You with My Eyes
October 8, 2020

Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne (MCBA)

Kiki Smith, My Blue Lake, 1995. Photogravure and lithograph in 3 colors on Arches En-Tout-Cas paper, 110.5 × 139.1 cm. Printer und publisher: Universal. Limited Art Editions, Bay Shore, New York. Courtesy Universal Limited Art Editions. Photo: Courtesy Universal Limited Art. Editions, Bay Shore, New York.

Kiki Smith
Hearing You with My Eyes
October 9, 2020–January 10, 2021

Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne (MCBA)
Place de la Gare 16
1003 Lausanne
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10am–6pm,
Thursday 10am–8pm

T +41 21 316 34 45

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The work of Kiki Smith (born 1954, lives and works in New York) is the featured subject of a major temporary show this fall at the MCBA Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts of Lausanne. Boasting a selection of nearly 100 works, some of which are on display for the very first time in Europe, this survey covers almost four decades of art-making, focusing on a theme that is central to her output yet has been little explored until now, i.e., sensory perception.

The show Kiki Smith. Hearing You with My Eyes is a rare opportunity for the general public to get to know the major themes that run through the American artist’s output, themes that spring from her observation of the human body. Since the early 1980s, Smith has been interested in the body and its workings, its symbolic and political meanings, and its representations and status in social space. She initially sought to describe it fragment by fragment. With books on anatomy serving as her guide and inspiration, she began by copying the organs and systems of the human body, turning an objective eye on a structure that was familiar and foreign to her at the same time. Smith then began to deal with the body starting at its envelope, the skin, a shift in focus that led her to human figures. She introduced a repertory of female figures for the most part, drawn from Biblical and mythological stories as well as folk and fairytales. This added a more narrative dimension to her work. These characters, to whom she has lent her own features at times, have enabled her to go back over a common cultural store of knowledge that is the basis of our imagination. With a contemporary, committed viewpoint, Kiki Smith questions the notions of nature and culture, driven by the will to assert the power of the feminine, the simultaneous vulnerability and force of humans, and our symbiosis with the animal kingdom.

The importance granted our senses can be seen in the shift from the microscopic to the macroscopic. It is in light of that shift that MCBA is showcasing today a body of work that plays out in a great variety of techniques. Smith reminds us that the senses are a means of acquiring knowledge. She points up their interconnectivity in the phenomena of perception—as the title of the show suggests—and explores a whole range of sensations, engaging those of visitors, who will find themselves fully involved in turn in confronting the works on display. Finally, even in the materials she has employed—all very tactile, especially paper—she has sought an equivalence with the characteristics of the human body.

Smith places human beings at the heart of the living once again, in connection with other animal species, but also with the plant kingdom and the cosmos. Doing so, she has delivered a vibrant plea for both respecting nature and the harmonious and joyous experience of nature that is available to all of us. Likewise she invites us to be mindful of its presence in the world and the fact that it is part of a vast whole. Her work echoes then, especially in the current moment, the growing awareness of the fragility of natural resources.

Curated by Laurence Schmidlin

Kiki Smith. Hearing You with My Eyes, ed. Laurence Schmidlin
With essay by Amelia Jones, Lisa Le Feuvre, and Laurence Schmidlin (FR/EN)
Musée cantonal des Beaux‑Arts de Lausanne/Scheidegger & Spiess, Zurich, 2020

Available at the MCBA bookshop: shop.mcba [​at​] vd.ch

Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne (MCBA)
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Hearing You with My Eyes
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