Scotiabank Nuit Blanche

Performance Anxiety curated by Heather Pesanti

Mike and Baby Ikki, 1981
Photo: Kevin Noble

Suitable for all ages

Threshold, 2014

Michael Smith - Brooklyn, USA

Performance Art

For over thirty years, Michael Smith has built an extensive body of work based on his performance personae Mike, the eponymous innocent who continually falls victim to trends in a media-saturated world, and Baby Ikki, a pre-lingual infant of ambiguous age. Archetypes on an unclear mission, they allow spectators to project their own interpretations, while Smith comments on absurdities in American culture with both humour and pathos. Smith’s large-scale narrative videos, installations, and performances quote from a variety of popular formats, including sitcoms, infomercials, and puppet shows.

In Threshold, a new, site-specific performance developed for Toronto City Hall's Council Chambers, Smith presents live performance and video projection to create the feeling and pace of C-SPAN mixed with the occasional up-tempo breaks resembling the five o'clock news. The pieces' overlapping narratives depict Mike attempting to do his civic duties while Baby Ikki wanders City Hall, engaging revellers in his path. Often, however, both are merely lost in their own worlds, the fumbling everyman offering a stark contrast to the ageless toddler, unmoored and eager to experience everything within reach.

Michael Smith is a video, performance and installation artist known for his eponymous persona Mike, the hopeful innocent and Baby Ikki, the pre-lingual, ambiguously aged toddler. Smith has exhibited extensively at museums, galleries, theaters, festivals, nightclubs, children’s parties, on television, online and in the street. His work has been shown internationally at the Whitney Museum, MoMA and New Museum in New York; Baltic Centre, Newcastle; ICA, Philadelphia; Art Metropole, Toronto; Pompidou Center, Paris; and more.


Nathan Phillips Square - Council Chambers

100 Queen Street West (Access outdoor stairs to the Podium Roof on the north side of the building. Elevator access available at the City Hall Security Desk.)

This project is indoors.