“Mike Kelley: Eternity is a Long Time” at HangarBicocca, Milan
Mike Kelley: Eternity is a Long Time, has been conceived as a way of coming to grips with the artist’s complex and highly diverse body of work, while simultaneously creating the opportunity to examine the fascinating web of cultural aspects and autobiographical memories that are so engrained in his art. These include his relationship with education, his links with modernist architecture, his view of the tradition of painting and of American literature, and his approach to the vernacular, popular culture, youthful initiatory rites and styles of musical subcultures. The exhibition occupies the entirety of the vast spaces of HangarBicocca, and is arranged in an open, non-chronological order, which underlines the sense of continuity in Mike Kelley’s art. It also shows how he was able to enter with the most amazing freedom and eclecticism into different expressive genres, ranging from installation to sculpture, through to performance and video, sound and drawing.
The exhibition opens with Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #1 (A Domestic Scene) (2000) (on loan from François Pinault Foundation) and Runway for Interactive DJ Event (on loan from Collezione La Gaia), two significant installations that were shown together at Mike Kelley’s first solo exhibition in Italy at the Galleria Emi Fontana in Milan in 2000. In the video titled Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #1 (A Domestic Scene) (2000) (on loan from François Pinault Foundation) one of the two protagonists utters the phrase, “Eternity is a long time” to his partner before both of them take their own lives. It is this work that gives the exhibition its title. These two works provide a powerful opening to the exhibition as each constitute a fundamental turning point in the artist’s work and each were created at the dawn of his most prolific period.
One of the key works in the exhibition is the John Glenn Memorial Detroit River Reclamation Project (Including The Local Culture Pictorial Guide, 1968-1972, Wayne/Westland Eagle) (on loan from Rennie Collection) installation of 2001, which takes inspiration from a monument to the astronaut John Glenn, after whom the high school Mike Kelley attended is named. The fragments of colored ceramic and glass covering the sculpture were picked up by Kelley in the river in Detroit. Sophisticated, artistic techniques and typically vernacular processes, the monuments of tradition and anti-monumentality, personal and collective memory, and a media-based world of the imagination and pop culture all come together in this emblematic work.
The exhibition continues with the large Light (Time) – Space Modulator installation of 2003 which references two key works of early-twentieth-century Constructivist art: a work by Laszlo Moholy Nagy and, in the spiral staircase, Vladimir Tatlin’s Monument to the Third International, which was actually never built. Taken directly from the artist’s home, the staircase is the centrepiece with sequences of 1970s photos of the previous tenants in different family situations. These alternate with pictures of Kelley himself impersonating the same situations and others that overlap the two series.
Profondeurs Vertes (2006) represents the finishing point but also a starting point for re-interpreting the entire exhibition. Consisting of three videos, an oil painting, and series of seven drawings, it was commissioned by the Louvre for the Les Artistes américains et le Louvre exhibition.
The exhibition is curated by Emi Fontana, a Mike Kelley expert and independent curator based in Los Angeles, and Andrea Lissoni, curator at HangarBicocca.
until 8 September 2013
Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #1 (A Domestic Scene), 2000
Bridge Visitor (Legend-Trip), 2004
Runway for Interactive DJ Event, 2000
John Glenn Memorial Detroit River Reclamation Project (Including the Local Culture Pictorial Guide, 1968-1972, Wayne/Westland Eagle), 2001
Light (Time) – Space Modulator, 2003
A Continuous Screening of Bob Clark’s Film “Porky’s” (1981), the Soundtrack of which has been Replaced with Morton Subotnik’s Electronic Composition “The Wild Bull” (1968), and Presented in the Secret Sub-Basement of the Gymnasium Locker Room (Office Cubicles), 2002
Rose Hobart II, 2006
Profondeurs Vertes, 2006
Profondeurs Vertes, 2006
The Banana Man, 1983
“Mike Kelley: Eternity is a Long Time”, installation views, HangarBicocca, Milan, 2013. All Mike Kelley works © Estate of Mike Kelley. All rights reserved. Courtesy: Fondazione HangarBicocca, Milan. Photos by Agostino Osio