Martin Smith’s works have been exhibited both in Australia and internationally. In 2014, he was included in the Dong Gang International Photo Festival in Korea. His work has also been included in the major exhibition, Primavera at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney (2007).
Smith's work is held in the collections of Artbank, the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, University of Queensland Art Museum, the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) and Monash City Gallery, and in corporate and private collections in Australia, Hong Kong, France and the USA.
"I grew up in the bayside suburbs of Brisbane, Australia with a speech impediment. My teenage years were spent watching and observing, as I was too embarrassed to speak. My inability to express myself during this time left an indelible mark on my personal history and has provided the impetus for my artistic enquiries. Therefore it is no surprise that my art practice is primarily about language and the modes of representation used to express and interpret personal experience.
Among the studio methodologies that I employ are the combination of traditional story telling writing with vernacular photography. The text and the images have no literal relationship and I am very careful to avoid any obvious connection between the two. I write personal stories then hand-cut the text out of the image. The removed letters from the image are collected and captured by the picture frame, sitting at the bottom of each image like fallen leaves creating an Autumnal scene where visible change has occurred and the picture and the figure are going through a transition. The text punctures the surface of the image disrupting the way we view and read the work. We can’t fully view the image because of the text and we can’t read the text without the image creating a constant back and forth between the two. When viewing the visual and textual oscillation between the two narrative devices that have no literal connection we find balance outside the picture frame in a new discursive space. It is through this collision of narrative and languages that unique interpretations of personal experience are built. I am interested in exploring spaces of meaning that are created when two or more narrative devices are blended.
In other works the letters are also glued directly onto the wall of the gallery to form recognizable but featureless figures. These installations explore how meaning and identity are generated through language. The individual letters (the building blocks of language) combine together to form a representation of a life that exists only through the formulation of language."
- Martin Smith
CIRCLE AND SETTLE | PHOTO 2022The content of the photographs emerged from an interview with Bangladeshi photojournalist and activist Dr Shahidul Alam. After Shahidul was imprisoned by the Bangladeshi government in 2018 his movements, speech and correspondence were monitored, resulting in a self-censorship that mirrors the process of stuttering. The questions asked in the interview were not designed to garner information regarding his incarceration but more ontological to collect ideas and personal philosophies. The verbal responses were then transcribed, the text laser cut, and the individual letters encased in resin to create a large negative that is then printed, similar to a photogram. The final image is 1:1 and provides a macro and micro view of an imaginary space where language, ideas, concepts and communication are formed. Each answer was recorded and will be presented alongside the work, so the viewer is listening to Dr Alam speak while watching the letters circle and settle in the atmosphere.
MARTIN SMITH IN BRISBANE ART DESIGN
Martin Smith's You workin' darlin?, 2019, is currently installed on an external wall at Jan Murphy Gallery in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley as part of the Museum of Brisbane's BRISBANE ART DESIGN (BAD) Festival. The text references Fortitude Valley’s historical association with prostitution.
Smith's work will be on display until 26 May 2019.⠀
Image: Martin Smith, You workin' darlin?, 2019
MARTIN SMITH RESIDENCY AT NARS FOUNDATION
Martin Smith is currently undertaking a three-month residency at NARS Foundation in New York. Supported by the Australia Council and Arts Queensland, Smith will also exhibit in the residency exhibition at NARS in December 2017.⠀
Image: Martin Smith, I am fortunate and bored, 2015
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