Art Intercom: Featuring Kathryn Smith

by Art Fag City on June 13, 2007 Events


My final interview in the series Art Intercom is up on icommons. This week I interview artist Kathryn Smith. Check it out!

Kathryn Smith likes good secrets. Not necessarily fun or beautiful ones – in fact her work often reveals those that are dark and violent — but her talent lies in her ability to both find and create hidden narratives, and obscured meaning, within a variety of mediums including film, photography and drawing. This week I spoke to Smith about her interest in the underbelly of filmic coding, how her simultaneous practice as a curator and critic informs her work, and the project she has planned for the upcoming icommons exhibition. Smith marks the final artist interview in a series of six, leading up to summit.

Art Fag City
: So in your artist statement you talk about the cinematic still having ambiguous meaning such that they imply a kind of violence. As a cinematic device, overuse of these shots can feel manipulative, and invasive and violence sometimes is a result of this, but I am interested in how you specifically address this in your work.

Kathryn Smith: Well, I suppose I look for [the violence.] That artist statement was written a couple years ago when I was working with films as a primary source material, but what I'm busy with right now, and probably what I'll do as part of my Summit project, is working with photographs from newspapers or images found online. I feel quite a connection with Joy in that regard . I'm naturally drawn to images that are violent, or imply violence without being overly sensational. I find I can't deal with too much gore anymore, but I do enjoy images where there is a protagonist whose actions are not really clear, images in which the action could go either way. I suppose that's what I enjoy about watching films by pausing or watching in frame advance mode, just to see what the narrative possibilities are outside the narrative flow of a given cinematic narrative.

AFC: And do you feel there is a particular work where this shows up?

KS: I do steal excessively from existing film, and I do use the form in that way. I did a performance piece a couple of years ago called Jack in Johannesburg and I made a film resulting from that performance which remixed documentary footage from the performance with as many dramatized and documentary-style narratives around the Jack the Ripper narrative as I could find, and I included as part of the dialogue for that film, soundbytes from Alfred Hitchock's film Rope which is based on the Leopold and Loeb murder case where two men murder someone as an intellectual challenge, and they discuss this act in the beginning of Rope. So I don't only do it with visuals. I use the strategy with voice overs and soundbytes that I find and use in this way.

To read the full interview click here.

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