The Museum of Modern Art acquire work by Michael Smith

Hales is excited to announce that Michael Smith's major historical installation, Government Approved Home Fallout Shelter Snack Bar, 1983, has been acquired by the Department of Media and Performance at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. The work was first shown at Castelli Graphics and The New Museum in New York in 1983 and has also been exhibited in at the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin and the Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia, amongst others. The installation features the first instance of a video game used in an artwork.

The installation places Mike in Cold War era suburbia, where he brings his party planning skills to nuclear preparedness. Using blueprints published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, he builds a fallout shelter, stocked with liquor, tchotchkes, and an awning that, in case of attack, can be tilted down to form a bomb shelter that entombs its occupant in cinderblocks.

With its absurd promise of uninterrupted leisure amid nuclear annihilation, the survival plan appeals to Mike’s affection for directions, lists, and DIY projects—which Smith uses to humorous critical effect. A series of drawings inserts Mike into didactic illustrations, beginning as a gracious host and ending confident and somewhat cowardly, hiding behind the shelter while his erstwhile party guests receive nuclear sunburns.

October 28, 2021