MICHAEL J. BAUMAN │ SHORT BIO
As a social engagement artist Michael Bauman explores notions of masculinity, failure, and the absurd by creating a mythos of the cruel and illogical. His interdisciplinary practice is one of halogen-bright moments grounded within the everyday, a combination of sculpture, documented interventions, and still photography. Work that does not stand apart from culture, but rather its underlying principles piggy-back onto shreds of reality, threads of evidence, and notions of the possible. One of his most recent endeavors on this line of thought was the fabrication of the World’s Smallest Airboat, an icon of the cultural absurd paradise he was raised in. It is a structure of minute dimensions, of zero compensation, in which he lead an expedition through the charted “wilds” of the Florida Everglades, crossing through the thickest portion of the marshland, to reach Miami. An expedition that replaced the historic notion of searching for the sublime, that of the exploration of the unknown, with one of absurdity, and the fear of not measuring up takes its place.
On a patch of reclaimed suburban paradise in Davie, FL; the western front of south Florida land development, as a child, passed down from his piss and vinegar Marine grandfather, Bauman developed his notions of the absurd culture built on the drained swamp that surrounded him. Through explorations in Installations, and performance based interventions his fascination with the bizarro culture, the battleground of the suburban paradise first came to fruition. The absurd culture of his childhood, a “paradise” of bikini bodies strutting on artificial beaches that lived only in postcards, led to work dealing with the commodification of the human body, putting a price on human fat. His Cash for Fat series culminated in the harvesting of the artist’s body fat and its conversion into a usable bio-diesel fuel. In Ireland in search of the mythical CATA monster he build a plastic boat, to lead a hunting party for the beast. A vessel that promptly sank and washed the artist ashore, leaving him defeated, yet surrounded by sun bathing onlookers. Work that seeks to raise awareness of societal notions of machismo with the satirical bronze He-man Bauman embodies, a personal incarnation of masculine absurdity.
At the University of Florida, Michael Bauman met fellow artist Kate Helms, that spawned a collaborative project (Bauhelmenterprise) which ran from 2013-2015. Michael Bauman is currently focused on his social engagement practice as he explores themes of gender, commodity, urbanization, and the “absurdity of culture,” specifically the hyper-masculinized expectation of the Southern American male, by creating a mythos of the cruel and illogical. He has exhibited in galleries across the United States, and Europe, and most recently instructed at the University of South Florida.