In Epistrophe, closed-circuit cameras record what the artist refers to as an “archive of associations, travels, affections, desires, questions, and longings” set before sweeping landscapes and skyscapes sourced from NASA and National Geographic. Projecting the intimately scaled tableaux onto the surrounding walls, Smith creates a provisional, dreamlike environment in which the familiar contours of the present are transformed into fantastic new worlds, untethered to a specific time and place and freed from entrenched cultural narratives.
Smith draws upon experimental jazz group the Art Ensemble of Chicago’s decades-long dedication to improvising with “little instruments”—including gongs, cymbals, toys, bird calls, and noisemakers of all shapes—as a way to broaden the sonic, historical, and geographical spectrum of music traditionally associated with African Americans; here, Smith explores what it means to do the same in her expanded cinema practice. By using repeated, fragmented images and objects of personal significance to build a world that reflects her distinct perspective, she creates space for others to do the same.
Four CCTV cameras, four monitors, projection, custom wood table, taxidermied raven, wood figures, bronze figures, plastic figures, books, seashells, minerals, jar of starfish, Magic 8-Ball, maneki-neko, mirror, metal trays, plaster objects, wood objects, wire object, fabric, glass vase, and plant Multichannel video (color, sound); Epistrophy 1: 6 minutes, 57 seconds; Epistrophy 2: 5 minutes, 31 seconds; Epistrophy 3: 5 minutes, 46 seconds; Epistrophy 4: 8 minutes, 23 seconds
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by AHAN: Studio Forum, 2020 Art Here and Now purchase