Mike Kelleytoward a utopian arts complex
October 21 – November 25, 1995
In his exhibition toward a utopian arts complex Mike Kelley explores the current American preoccupation with repressed memory of childhood abuse by attempting to reconstruct his own art education and the resulting indoctrination or "aesthetic abuse" to which he was subjected.
The work entitled Entry Way (Genealogical Chart) is Kelley's family tree. The large sculpture Educational Complex combines scale models of every learning institution Kelley attended from his one-room Catholic kindergarten to graduate school at Cal Arts. The models were constructed from plans and photographs. The interiors were done from memory; the covered areas of the interiors represent areas which Kelley does not recall. The project is a "therapeutic search" to uncover these memories.
The paintings and drawings are executed in the styles taught when Kelley attended art school — primarily abstract expressionism and the pedagogic theories of Hans Hofmann. The Hofmannesque rectangles in Kelley's paintings have more than a formal purpose — they cover up or suppress narrative content — very possibly the "dirty" parts.
The Timeless/Authorless series of black and white photographs use newspaper mastheads from the cities where Kelley attended school or had exhibitions. The texts are either restaurant reviews (because they are commonly enlarged to use as promotions) or "recovered memories" chronicling sexual abuse and fears suffered in childhood.
The We Communicate Only Through Our Shared Dismissal of the Pre-Linguistic series of color photographs are of actual children's paintings by students of Kelley when he was a 21-year-old student teacher. Accompanying each photograph is a psychological analysis of the child's art discovering traces of his or her sexual and mental abuse by adults, cults and aliens. They are written and edited by Kelley.
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