As part of her multidisciplinary practice, Smith has staged a number of outdoor processions featuring banners with emblematic imagery and phrases. These performances hinge on her interest in subverting the aggressive undertones of militaristic and religious marches in order to create equally disruptive, yet convivial public happenings in the spirit of grassroots community action. The artist also creates banners that function as standalone artworks while still referencing formal processions.
Identifying the artist Paul Thek (1933–1988) as “one of the patron saints” of this exhibition, Smith adapted the text and style of his painting Afflict the Comfortable, Comfort the Afflicted (1985) into the banner seen here. Thek, considered one of the first artists to create immersive environments or installations, in turn borrowed the phrase from writer and humorist Finley Peter Dunne (1867–1936), who used it satirically in 1902 to describe the role of the press.
Satin, cotton, velvet, and vinyl
Courtesy of the artist, Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago, and Kate Werble Gallery, New York
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