Centrality... Junk drawer. Precious metals. History of "booty" (coins, jewels et al). A wishing well or a church offering tray are repositories for such dreams of riches, the clink of metal on metal. Wares as talisman. Fully aware. Bangles and buckles ( things that adorn the dead in a tomb, treasure where x marks the spot). Art, a wish and a prayer...
Raymond Pettibon. The eye (sphere/cylinder) is central, flat or deep, phallic.
Ironically educated (and therefore institutionalized) by such a show, showing. A moral center? Amoral center?
Pecker/Bush. Male/female. Rugs. Carpets. Hill/Valley.
"What's behind is always worse than what's up front" Game of chance.
The Banana Man, 1983. Eraserhead?
Good and Evil. But which is which? Dualities...
Crockery on a maze. Directed view. Organized superficially. Still fragments and parts covering a whole.
Interior precious metals from Memory Ware is now an organized framework in endless morphing. Apparent order with a new kind of chaos, the labyrinth. Delineations and parts have clearer genealogies and relationships.
Front (facade). Bar charts. Levels.
Reminds us over and over again that at birth, the union of male and female is again separated.
Umbilicus=intestine. Conduit of life.
Pain of separation.
Appearance/disappearance. Cf. lenticular and relationship between light and glass. Inside is a colorful and chaotic mush. Outside is a calm, clean appearance and frame.
Vapor. Anthropomorphic hanging A/V. The mirage of life...
(and a fond farewell)
There was a dizzying amount of stuff here. I could almost see Kelley putting just such a statement in quotes. Of course, it’s too easy to speculate and perhaps even easier to attempt tidy summaries and narratives for such an output, especially posthumously. Which is to say, I think it's tempting to read into things in a certain way given the artist’s self-elected demise. However, if we were to look at the work from any moment/period, it’s clear that Mike Kelley was uncomfortable with the way things were (are) at every scale of a body.
With a show like this one, I think one needs to ease into it because a long wild ride can be expected, expected based on preconceived notions and because the instant "vibe" of the sprawling, expansive installation was both exhilarating and intimidating. Sounds a little bit like Los Angeles personified come to think of it. As a fellow midwesterner, I could almost empathize, if in fact that was a response. Of course, I found it much easier to dive right into LA than I did this show, but I digress.
I started on the mezzanine, stepped into the Kandors, went under the mezzanine to view The Banana Man, followed Pay for Your Pleasures to the west edge (one of the rooms where I could take pictures), then recycled through Pay for Your Pleasures to the lower mezzanine area for a final view among Kandors, Three Valleys, and, finally, Superman Recites Selections from "The Bell Jar" and Other Works by Sylvia Plath."
What was so impressive (impressing?) was just how persistent Kelley's vision seemed to be from day one, just how singular it was. Makes me think I need to read Sylvia Plath sometime soon for proper contextualization. For, a bell jar seems significant enough a talisman for Mike Kelley to have more or less book-ended an art career that spanned multiple decades through every typical, art genre, but never too far removed from an overwhelming desire to understand the thin layer between interior/exterior, human conditions: body/mind generally and many dualities specifically (male/female, dark/light, soft/hard, land/human...). Apparently, it's never quite clear which is which. What I mean to say is that if one considers the bell jar that sits atop a table in an early assemblage of artifacts, it's difficult not to keep thinking about it when faced with the Kandors, the very title of a work via Sylvia Plath, not to mention how we might view capsules of such thin conditions (comic strips, televisions, video installations, and, now retrospectively, an entire installation of artworks that spans a significant amount of time.
I must confess that I only spent three hours engaged with this exhibition in situ, in this iteration. Because of its scope and density, one doesn't easily walk in and out of a show like this. It probably would have required at least three, three-hour visits. So much could be said/written/made about such a presentation of artworks and many have/will. While I was not afforded as much luxury in time of viewing nor in this written reflection, I made the most of it, and thoroughly enjoyed the process of institutionalization that is Mike Kelley.