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November 26, 2005

{     Day is Done: Mike Kelley at Gagosian Gallery     } Cacophonous. That's the only word that came into my head as I entered Larry Gagosian's stadium sized gallery on West 24th St. last week. The normally bright, sprawling, shiny, concrete floored space reserved for Big Daddy Gogo's blockbuster commodity creators was dark and noisy. Filled with a chaotic jumble of outsized objects, stages, works on walls, video projections, flashing lights, bursts of sound and bored security guards, it was also open like I've rarely seen it yet full and astonishing. A playground of labyrinthine installations led me to wander around for at least a half hour (an eternity in Chelsea where I usually breeze through shows in 5 minutes or less and that's if I actually go INTO the gallery.)
Pictures from 1970's High School yearbooks depicting school plays and sporting events were juxtaposed with hilarious contemporary representations of new people often a little older, a little prettier, with newer costumes that did their best to replicate the original. They failed in their starchiness yet mocked them with a slick and stylish malevolence. This would have been enough for an entire show, I thought, but there was so much more.
Videos of the new characters in the photos were projected near them on screens whose layout followed the logic of dream and chance. Characters dressed as vampires, devils, farmers, animals, pastors, and hillbillies fought with one another, danced, pranced, and did other indescribable things on sets that looked like they originated in public access TV studios. One showed a preppy girl in a blonde wig wrestling with a punk looking girl who had on KISS makeup and Chuck Taylor's. They were in a classroom or office and they had antagonizers in their coworkers/classmates. Another featured a young man with no shirt but wearing a leather jacket with a Nazi armband, greased back hair, and round dark sunglasses. With a brutish sidekick wearing a Gestapo helmet he rapped about how he loved sex with fat women.
The sets that surrounded the videos were just as outrageous and engrossing. A caped throne chair on an Indian rug swirled back and forth on a 160 degree arc, every once in a while stopping abruptly with a cartoonish vibration. Casper the Friendly Ghost could have popped and locked out while singing Elvis tunes and I wouldn't have been surprised.
Then there was the "Gospel Rocket" a giant caped phallus that was at once nuclear and religious in a Jimmy Swaggart kind of way. Announced by a roadside arrow sign (you know the kind with the big yellow board that have letters you can insert with phrases like "Corn for Sale", "10 strippers dance for you tonight!" or "Help Wanted") it had all the charm of a Hellhouse ministry hoedown and all the anarchic wrongness of an episode of Wondershozen. One faux wall had a group of folk art paintings, the highlight of which was a painting on plywood of Garth Brooks looking sadly down as if to shed a tear in his beer, in front of him painted in garish flesh tone a naked breast.
Having witnessed "Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction parts 2-32" without critical or theoretical preface I left after getting a press release.
I won't go into what it all meant. Volumes are being written about that. (From the October issue of Art Forum which has a "Thousand Words" piece by the notoriously verbose Kelley himself, to the December issue of Flash Art which features this show on the cover and has a great interview with Kelley by John Waters, to the New York Times Review by head critic Michael Kimmelman (below), to the reviews he'll likely get in every major art magazine on earth. You won't be wanting for background if you seek it.) I will say that Kelley in his own modernist-punk-carnival master way has graduated to the biggest of big times by giving us one the best uses of Gagosian's giant space I've seen and all without regard for the currently ravenous and homogenizing market place. If you're in New York please go see it (stoned if you're able). If you're not read about it here:

     » Michael Kimmelman's NY Times Review
     » Ben Davis' Review
     » Gagosian Gallery
     » Flash Art


Sorry, but what is kimerikas?


Posted by: sweeta-ze at March 27, 2008 5:19 AM

Sorry, but what is kimerikas?


Posted by: sweeta-ze at March 27, 2008 5:19 AM

Sorry, but what is kimerikas?


Posted by: sweeta-ze at March 27, 2008 5:19 AM

Posted by: nick_basdro at December 25, 2008 4:12 AM
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