My current body of work explores the idea that utopia can be considered not only a place or a goal, but also as the very act of striving for such a target. These hybridized structures are materializations, remnants of an ideal that never was and may never be. As fallen monuments to a utopic philosophy, they function as relics of both a “good place” and “no place.” They nod towards a bright future and a fallen past, recontextualizing and recombining materials that are both nostalgic and futuristic. An embedded sense of naiveté is inherent to the objects, formed from a chemical bond of sunshine and noir that was repeatedly cooled and heated by urban temperament and artifice. Part architectural, part fossil, part potential: these works utilize discarded building materials that appear to have crystallized within a ‘natural’ process—strata that have undergone philosophical transformation yet to be fulfilled.
This process of research began with an interest in the history of the midwestern suburban landscape and culture from my youth, where the middle class idea of “the good life” fueled a massive overhaul of the American landscape that would drastically alter how we live for generations to come. This background, combined with my fascination and love/hate relationship with the city of Los Angeles, where I currently live, has lead me to examine mid-century philosophies of utopia and idealism. Los Angeles has a sordid environmental history as a strange apocalyptic theme park. Its plush, manicured landscape is a reminder of both a forced growth in an otherwise desert geography, and as a monument to human ingenuity made possible by diverting an unfathomable amount of water from distant sources. I am captivated by the hybridized structures and blatant artifice of the city in both its natural and man-made environments where hill top homes float precariously overhead on earth that has a topographical complexity of embedded catastrophe.
Artist Bio / CV
Aili Schmeltz is a Los Angeles based artist that earned her MFA from the University of Arizona, holds a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and has exhibited internationally in cities such as New York, Berlin, Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami. She recently had a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson, entitled Tomorrowland. Recent grants include the Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant, The Creative Capacity Fund Grant, The Durfee Foundation Grant and Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grant. Schmeltz has also been an artist in residence at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Sculpture Space, Babayan Culture House (Cappadocia, Turkey) and Takt Kunstprojektraum (Berlin, Germany). For more information visit her web site at ailischmeltz.com.