In June 2008, Michael Smith staged a birthday party for his legendary character Baby Ikki at EAI. Baby Ikki's Birthday Party documents this performance, following the diaper-clad baby as he interacts with party guests and an ebullient clown named Curly. During the party, cake was served, games were played, a piņata was broken, guests sang "Happy Birthday," and gifts were opened. There was even a puppy.
Conceived as a mute, ambiguous character fixed neither by age nor gender, Baby Ikki is an archetype with an unclear mission, onto which spectators project their own interpretations. This event was the first time in more than a decade that Smith had held a party in New York for Baby Ikki. At this performance, the perpetually 18-month-old Baby Ikki celebrated his 33rd birthday.
During the birthday party, guests mingled, played party games, and became active participants in Smith's performance. Smith uncannily transforms himself into a mute infant, wearing a baby bonnet, a drooping diaper and heavy stubble. Guests were encouraged to bring age-appropriate gifts for Baby Ikki, which were enthusiastically incorporated into the performance.
Featuring: Curly the Clown. Event Production: Josh Kline, Lola Sinreich. Camera: Nick Lesley, Trevor Shimizu. Production Assistance: Ann Adachi, Jeremy Fisher, Nick Lesley, Sophie Tusler. Photography: Lola Sinreich. Edited at Electronic Arts Intermix: Trevor Shimizu, Michael Smith. Videotaped June 18, 2008. Produced by Electronic Arts Intermix Public Program Series. Thanks: Rebecca Cleman, Josh Kline, Lori Zippay.