Michael Smith b. 1951
Open House, excerpts (1999)
The New York Times
ART IN REVIEW; Michael Smith and Joshua White -- 'Open House'
Published: May 7, 1999
New Museum of Contemporary Art

Michael Smith and Joshua White, collaborative producers of comedic installations, have here created an amusing and expansive if not terribly profound spin on the archetype of the sacred studio. Pass through a gateway of construction scaffolding and you discover a replica of a cluttered and grungy SoHo artist's loft.

At the start, Mr. Smith himself speaks to you on videotape with deadpan, Spalding Gray-like charm, as though you were a prospective buyer. It seems that in response to skyrocketing SoHo real estate values, the artist, who may or may not be identical with Mr. Smith himself, has decided to sell out after living in extended-adolescent squalor for 20 years. When the brief video tour is over (''Loft beds aren't for everyone, but I think they're really great'') you're free to wander.

In one area a television set plays interview excerpts from ''Interstitial,'' Mr. Smith's cable-access television program. Here and there are individual artworks like ''Sweat Equity,'' a sheetrock wall built as a form of process art and video performance, and ''Waterfall,'' a small black-and-white television set playing rolling snow and sitting on a spaghettilike bed of videotape. Everywhere are posters, crummy used furniture, notes and postcards stuck to walls, video equipment, lights and wires and random bits of detritus. It looks as if no one has done any serious cleaning for years.

Ultimately, it all seems banal and pathetic. It's more theater than art, but as such it entertainingly spoofs a certain quasi-Bohemian life style.