Michael Smith

Influenced by both the avant-garde performance of artists like Vito Acconci and Richard Foreman as well as forms of popular entertainment, particularly stand-up comedy, Michael Smith has been cultivating his own idiosyncratic brand of performance art since the late 1970s. Smith's performances and videos typically revolve around two recurring characters: Mike, described as a "naïve and somewhat inept Everyman," and Baby Ikki, an oversized baby with facial hair, a diaper, and sunglasses. Smith places these alter-egos in various comedic situations—for instance, the mock-children's book Baby Ikki at the Museum documents Baby Ikki's interactions with works of art at the Whitney Museum, and several videos feature Mike as the protagonist of a fictional sitcom—to subversively probe popular culture and the media.

Smith has also created numerous collaborations with other artists, such as the video installation A Voyage of Growth and Discovery (2009), for which Smith and the late Mike Kelley documented Baby Ikki at Burning Man, displaying the resulting video alongside industrial detritus, playground equipment, and Kelley's signature stuffed animals.