Kiki Smith Interview: Advice to the Young


“Follow your work as truthfully as you can, even when it brings you into ditches, rather than holding an idea of what you want it to be,” says Kiki Smith – one of the most iconic contemporary American artists – in this short video, where she sums up her important experiences as an artist.

“You have to show up and do it.” It’s a collaboration between you and the physical world, and “you need to risk having that relationship wherever that goes,” Smith explains, and shares she now is less afraid of carrying out her ideas than when she was younger. She also stresses that you have to listen to your work, and either let it lead you or go back and remake it, so it fits your vision. “I know it’s also just a tremendous luxury that an artist takes for themselves. Just to go down their own rabbit hole to whatever engages them,” she adds.

Kiki Smith (b.1954) is a German-born American artist. Since the 1980s, Smith has been known for her multidisciplinary practice and figural representations of mortality, abjection, and sexuality. In her work, she often examines the body and bodily fluids, such as blood, semen, and bile in carefully crafted, surreal sculptures. Smith’s works are held in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, among others, and has been featured at five Venice Biennales. Moreover, she has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions worldwide. Smith’s many accolades include Time Magazine’s ‘Time 100: The People Who Shape Our World’ in 2006, Women in the Arts Award from the Brooklyn Museum (2009), the U.S. State Department Medal of Arts (2012) (conferred by Hilary Clinton), and the International Sculpture Center’s Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award. She lives and works in New York City.

Kiki Smith was interviewed by Christian Lund at Kiki Smith’s home in New York in October 2018.

Camera: Matthew Kohn
Edited by Kasper Bech Dyg
Produced by Christian Lund
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2020

Supported by Nordea-fonden

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