Michael Smith and Alan Herman, Government Approved Home Fallout Shelter/Snack Bar, 1983. Photo: Kevin Noble


"Mike's World: Michael Smith & Joshua White (and other collaborators)

Blanton Museum of Art
200 East Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
September 11–December 30, 2007

Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania 118 South 36th Street
April 24–August 3, 2008

Curated by Annette DiMeo Carlozzi

Well before the lackadaisical sublime came to pervade the art of the 1990s, there was Mike, the everyman alter ego who, created in the mid-’70s by artist Mike Smith, may have been the first to inject true pathos into the pathetic. In countless videos and performances, Smith’s character has occupied a bland landscape of sitcom sets, rock ’n’ roll lighting salesrooms, and downstairs rec rooms, delivering deadpan attempts to embrace the ad-copy tropes by which most people live their lives, his demeanor blending embarrassment and Beckett with stand-up comedy. At the Blanton, a comprehensive selection of videos, installations, drawings, and artist books (many executed in collaboration with friends such as Joshua White) will chart the continuing odyssey. Travels to the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, Apr. 24–Aug. 3 2008.