Reversals, Recyclings, Completions, and Late Editions
2 November - 7 December 2002
Mike Kelley's new painting and sculpture at Metro Pictures continues his confrontation with "repressed memory syndrome" as it relates to his own art and personal history. The work results from the absurd and obsessive mining of the artist's past, as he recalls details of his childhood, reconstructs locations and recycles materials of prior projects. In its comic futility, the work is both diversely unpredictable and rigorously logical.
A Continuous Screening of Bob Clarks's Film Porky's (1981), the Soundtrack of Which Has Been Replaced with Morton Subotnick's Electronic Composition The Wild Bull (1968), and Presented in the Secret Sub-Basement of the Gymnasium Locker Room is a walk-in wood structure configured to resemble office cubicles where recycled floor plans, architectural sketches and working drawings from his Educational Complex are mounted on the walls. "Educational Complex", which he showed at Metro Pictures in 1995, is an architectural model composed of replicas of every school Kelley attended, with areas which he could not remember left blank. The title of this piece is drawn from notes on some of the school floor plans describing "recovered memories" of events that took place in the various "repressed" spaces.
Concretized Negative Space, a series of black blocks on a table-like base, revisits the forgotten rooms of Educational Complex. A black "gravy" flows over the boxes into surrounding puddles of dark "forgetfulness". Mobile-like sculptures, based on Kelley's first tentative sketches of the school buildings, use blocks that approximate remembered chunks of architecture individually suspended from the ceiling; their physical relationships remaining shifting and provisional.
The exhibition includes several Memory Ware Flats that are part of a series Kelley began in 2000 that reference the folk tradition of decorating the surface of common objects, such as vases, frames, and boxes, with a variety of recycled trinkets. Kelley's mosaic-like paintings are composed of large panels with a three-dimensional surface embedded with bright metal and colorful beads, pins, buttons, charms, and pendants. Another sculpture consists of a large velvet-lined jewelry case in which Kelley displays a vast number of particularly representative trinkets originally gathered for use in the Memory Ware pieces, and now arranged in a continuous line organized according to ever-morphing and evolving categories.
Mike Kelley lives and works in Los Angeles. He has exhibited at Metro Pictures since 1992. Foul Perfection a collection of Kelley's essays and criticism, will be released by M.I.T. Press in November.