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Las Ruinas de Buenas Vibras y Malos Actos
(The Ruins of Good Times and Bad Acts)

Bruno Smith

02/18/2022- 03/27/2022


197 E4th Street

"It is like a cactus needle embedded in the flesh. It worries itself deeper and deeper, and I keep aggravating it by poking at it. When it begins to fester I have to do something to put an end to the aggravation and to figure out why I have it. I get deep down into the place where it is rooted in my skin and pluck away at it, playing it like a musical instrument—the fingers pressing, making the pain worse before it can get better."

- Gloria Anzaldua, Borderlands/La Frontera

Ki Smith Gallery is pleased to announce Bruno Smith’s Las Ruinas De Buenas Vibras Y Malos Actos, a multi-media installation in two parts. Smith transforms the 197 E 4th Street gallery into a living biome of sand paintings and desert plants, and 311 E 3rd Street into a billiards arena for congregation. Our 4th Street location will open to the public on February 19th. We invite you to join us at 311 E 3rd Street on Saturday, March 5th from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m to celebrate the opening of the exhibition in its entirety.

Smith’s new body of work explores two ways to fill a space with life: plants and congregation. While galleries are dedicated to preservation and display of objects, Smith turns spaces into sites of preservation for living organisms and “artifacts” of sociality. He considers: How can we cultivate spaces of care for other living beings? Are there new forms of coming together we can invent or are we beholden to our familiar ways?

As described by the artist:

197 E 4th Street: A potted plant is a life bound to an unnatural vessel. Where was it taken from? A seed is extracted, cultivated, manipulated to be kept, and forced into preservation. Does it satisfy the beautification of our spaces, mindfulness, empathy, resilience, or to be one with nature? Bound to a loose contract to sustain life, we pay to care.

311 E 3rd Street: In the early months of lockdown, I gathered, planted, organized, exercised, and meditated. But I wondered if my focus on isolated well-being was guided by an acceptance that sociality, as it was, wouldn’t occur again. Could an object like a pool table become a remnant of a pre-viral culture, a ghost or a relic of a time, a place, a condition? Making a pool table felt like hope, or an anticipation of gathering again, as though to say “if you build it, they will come.”

Available Works


Bruno Smith,

(b. New York City, 1990)

​​Bruno Smith is a Mexican-American multidisciplinary artist born in New York City. He received his BFA at SAIC (2012), and his MFA at Rutgers University Mason Gross (2021). With family roots in Brownsville, Texas and Mexico City, Smith searches for a universal language amidst the logos and signs that saturate our environments. Stripping everyday symbols from their original consumer context in the U.S. or Mexico, Smith builds a hieroglyphic language to reflect on time, decomposition, and the very nature of the materials used to construct his work. In repurposing everyday refuse, Smith memorializes the discarded and explores their beingness in the world.

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