Kiki Smith Interview: The Moon is Like Virgin Mary
“Certainly there’s a tremendous amount of lure around it, but it’s also just one of the most beautiful things that you can see in the night sky,” says the legendary American artist Kiki Smith of the Moon. Watch her share her love for the pearl-like “shimmering image” in the sky, which often appears in her work.
Smith compares the Moon to the Virgin Mary: “It’s something that you can address. The sun is more ferocious; you can’t like look it in the eye, whereas the Moon you can put all your longing and prayers and sadness and, you know, everything in it.” As a child, the reflective light of the moon – from the sun – also made her think about God as being the sun and people as reflections of it: “I always thought, oh, I want to be like the Moon. I want to be … the evidence on earth. Which is an odd way for a contemporary person to think, but it’s sort of how I am anyway.” Smith also talks about how she has used the Moon in her work – from paper balloon sculptures to paintings on glass of the Blood Moon: “It’s reflecting the blood on this planet. The Blood Moon is reflecting our carnage.” Finally, the artist shows us her blue tattoos of star constellations of Corvus (the Crow) and Columba (the Dove): “They’re like my boxing gloves, hitting the world.”
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
Cover photo: Detail from ‘Blue Moon 1’ (2011) by Kiki Smith. Courtesy of the artist