Kevin Schmidt (Hardcover)
An interdisciplinary artist working across performance, video, photography and installation who has exhibited widely across North America and Europe, Schmidt is perhaps best known for performance expeditions and interventions into the natural world, which are documented in photographs, installations and videos. Schmidt addresses the tensions between man and nature, performance and document and indoors and outdoors, combining notions of the heroic with the seemingly amateur by using visible reminders of artistic construction and theatrical devices-smoke machines, stage lights and DIY photographic equipment. Schmidt's works are often situated in remote locations, where he stages remarkable events that add elements of urban culture to untouched natural contexts, such as Aurora with Roman Candle, which shows him firing roman candles at the aurora borealis, and his eleven-and-a-half hour long Epic Journey, which documents a marathon night-time screening of the Lord of the Rings trilogy in a small boat as it drifted down the Fraser River. In this way, he simultaneously examines both the seductive elements of contemporary cultural production and the constructions that surround the idea of nature.
Kevin Schmidt's interdisciplinary work tries, tests and ultimately celebrates traditional notions of the sublime in the Canadian landscape. Through intervention, performance-for-camera, photography, video and installation he blurs boundaries of performance, document and product. Central to Schmidt's output are performative expeditions and undertakings in which he pits man-made spectacle; often based on trappings of popular culture, mythology or religion; against Caspar David Friedrich; like visions of nature to play out a humorous, and often absurd, struggle for agency. Schmidt's 2002 video Long Beach Led Zep brought him to international attention. In it, Schmidt enters the picturesque landscape of Long Beach, BC, starts a generator, dons a guitar, and plays a less than seamless rendition of Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven; through the works duration, Schmidt vies for attention in direct opposition to his environment. Kevin Schmidt holds a BFA from the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. He has shown extensively in Canada and abroad, including solo shows at Artspeak, Vancouver's Contemporary Art Gallery, the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, Presentation House Gallery, Mercer Union and the Musee d'art contemporain de Montreal.