Playing for two weeks at New York City’s Film Forum alongside Mary Lance’s superior Agnes Martin: With My Back to the World, Vivien Bittencourt and Vincent Katz’s Kiki Smith: Squatting the Palace opens a window on the creative process of one of our most vital artists. Toiling away in her home on the East Side, Kiki Smith jumps between disciplines—sculpture, drawing, and furniture—for an eight-room installation commissioned by the Venice Biennale. Quaint and unpretentious, the documentary reveals Smith’s intuitive mode of production. What is unique about Smith is not that she is always working (she can turn anything, even a taxi cab, into a vessel for her creative process), but that she feels no need to illuminate her arcane sensibilities. “It’s coming from you out,” she says at one point. Enough said, some might say—except it’s not. The anecdotes Smith relates throughout the documentary can be sweet, sometimes haunting, but even these biographical revelations don’t really explain how her past has shaped an aesthetic that suggests children and animals slipping away from Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland and onto tableau’s of early-American living. She is, though, a splendid artist, and Squatting the Palace is an inexpensive way of gawking at her work for anyone who couldn’t afford to fly to Italy to see her installation in 2005.
- 45 min
- Vivien Bittencourt, Vincent Katz
- Kiki Smith
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