July 19-21 ✨Sming Sming Books at SF Art Book Fair

Press ✨ Sable Elyse Smith: LANDSCAPES & PLAYGROUNDS in Art in America

featured in Art in America's June 2018 issue in essay
"Firsthand at Arm's Length" by Diane Hamilton.

Excerpt: "Combining handwritten letters from her father with aerial shots of penitentiaries, Smith’s book Landscapes & Playgrounds reads like an analysis of her overall project. A green spiral binds the blue cover bearing a yellow palm tree, and the book opens onto the reverse image of a scan of a handwritten letter, so that the text is minimally legible (through the blue lines of the notebook paper, you can just make out “Love, Dad” at the page’s bottom). In one section, Smith describes the importance of musical refrains: “how easy music lends itself to being remembered”—a reference, perhaps, to the sampling of Al Green’s Love and Happiness in her video How We Tell Stories to Children (2015), where it accompanies footage of her father buzzing his hair. Smith’s use of refrain emphasizes the repetitive and bureaucratic elements of carceral life. Her project takes a holistic approach, using repetition as a formal principle that allows each work to comment on or add to others’ effects. The dark ordinariness, for example, of a blown-up screen-printed image of a coloring book pigeon outline (Untitled, 2017), with a text bubble that reads “Thanks for visiting!” becomes clearer after reading Landscapes & Playgrounds. There, the same bird introduces children to the prison’s waiting area through a series of games and prompts; one aspect of the subjective experience of visiting is conveyed by the banal repetition of this encouraging pigeon." Read more.