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Mike Kelley in "Memory"
In a body of work that includes sculptures, performance, and installations, Mike Kelley explores contemporary culture’s obsession with repressed trauma. Many of Kelley’s projects draw on his own memory. “Educational Complex,” he says, “is a model of every school I ever went to plus the home I grew up in, with all the parts I can’t remember left blank.”
That project has led Kelly to create of a performance/video called Day is Done, which will eventually consist of 365 tapes, one for every day of the year. In scenes that he writes, directs and scores, Kelley has drawn on yearbooks to re-stage high school rituals with surreal elements, such as donkeys, devils, and eerie music in a student-body assembly.More information
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Mike Kelley’s work ranges from highly symbolic and ritualistic performance pieces to arrangements of stuffed-animal sculptures, to wall-size drawings, to multi-room installations that restage institutional environments (schools, offices, zoos), to extended collaborations. His work questions the legitimacy of “normative” values and systems of authority, and attacks the sanctity of cultural attitudes toward family, religion, sexuality, art history, and education. He also comments on and undermines the legitimacy of the concept of victim or trauma culture, which posits that almost all behavior results from some form of repressed abuse. Kelley’s aesthetic mines the rich and often overlooked history of vernacular art in America, and his practice borrows heavily from the confrontational, politically conscious, “by all means necessary” attitude of punk music.