Animals that behave like humans fascinate humans: dogs behaving ‘guilty’, cats that make a sound that is similar to a human word, or even a sentence, animals in clothes, animals in situations that are typical for humans, such as that viral video of the two squirrels ‘shopping’ in a supermarket, or that photo of the deer on the escalator.

A reflection on subjectivity

Michael E. Smith transfers this fascination from the category of ‘humor’ to ‘existentialism’. Untitled shows an alligator claw holding a clothes hanger. Separated from the alligator’s body, the claw even resembles a human hand. The clothes hanger, at first sight, contributes to this idea. But then, the claw is turned outwards, meaning that the claw is ‘offering’ the hanger to someone, instead of holding it for its own use. Then, there is the presentation; not on a pedestal, but on the floor, forcing the viewer to bend down to the ground in order to see the work; the alligator’s position, or perhaps this low-to-the-ground-ness provides us with simple truths about our subjectivity in watching the world around us.

The lack of title does the rest. With Untitled, Michael E. Smith provides a lead for further contemplation through subtle, everyday objects.