I first visited Havana in November 2016, a few days after Fidel Castro died, and just under a year before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba in September 2017. Since then, much has changed, including the hand-painted signs that punctuate the journey from the airport to the city centre, which today do not celebrate the revolution so much as the 'Unidad y...
The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...
The National 2019: New Australian Art features work by 70 contemporary Australia-based artists split across three venues: the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) (29 March–21 July 2019), as curated by Isobel Parker Philip, curator of photographs at AGNSW; Daniel Mudie Cunningham,...
Twenty years after its creation, Mike Kelley's 1999 Unisex Love Nest will be presented in the late artist's hometown for the very first time when it fills Hauser & Wirth's stand at the inaugural Frieze Los Angeles fair. Inspired by a photograph of an idealised child's bedroom that Kelly found in the mass market magazine First for Women, this seminal installation work has been widely exhibited throughout Europe, including presentations at the Staatliche Kunsthalle, Germany, and Kunstmuseum Bergen, Norway.
Unisex Love Nest draws upon themes and imagery from storybooks and fairytales, ornamenting a white-walled space with floral decals, lacy curtains, throw pillows, plush animals, and birdhouses, while hinting at repressed fantasies and burgeoning sexual desires, and testing conventional concepts of gender.
Marc Payot, Partner and Vice President, Hauser & Wirth, remarked:
'The inauguration of Frieze Los Angeles is a perfect moment to celebrate the wider story of this remarkable city as a global art capital, a place that has inspired its artists toward innovations that have, in turn, shaped artmaking worldwide. We are very proud to be the home of a number of outstanding LA artists and foundations, including the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts. His prolific art practice seems impossible to imagine without the context of Los Angeles, this ultimate American city of reinvention, where images and dreams become cultural products that mirror the times. It’s a great honour to present Kelley’s Unisex Love Nest for the first time in the place where it was conceived.’
About Unisex Love Nest
Seared into every adult’s mind is the memory of his or her own childhood dwelling–a memory that inevitably resurfaces upon entering Kelley’s Unisex Love Nest. His constructed environment takes as its starting point a statement from the original magazine source: ‘They’re only young once, so take this opportunity to give them a room they’ll remember forever.’
At a time when stereotypical gender roles for children were still largely unchallenged, Kelley foreshadowed a reversal of the prevailing binary paradigm by creating a child’s room as a multi-purpose, gender neutral retreat for all. Unisex Love Nest subverts the image of a clean, perfected world through its seemingly innocent colloquial charm. The artist investigated similar concepts in the sculpture Framed and Frame... (1999), which explores and confronts his memory of sexual exploration with childhood friends amongst the dust bunnies under his bed. Both Framed and Frame and Unisex Love Nest both tap into the regression and fantasy endemic to pubescent experiences and private spaces.
Within Unisex Love Nest, a vintage television plays a feature-length video titled Cross Gender/Cross Genre (1999), a compilation of period crossgender-related films, including documentation and interviews, presented as part of Re-Make/Re-Model: Secret Histories of Art, Pop, Life, and the Avant-Garde, a symposium dedicated to queer aesthetics held in Graz, Austria in 1999.
Ultimately, Unisex Love Nest functions as a portal: transporting the viewer back and forth between a memory of their seemingly innocent childhood surroundings and the space they presently inhabit, rife with awkward yet potent sexual undertones.
About Mike Kelley
Over the course of his four-decade career, Kelley produced a provocative and rich oeuvre that conflates the highest and lowest forms of popular culture in a relentless critical examination of social relations, cultural identity, and systems of belief. Through an extensive variety of media, including drawing, painting and sculpture, video and photography, performance, music, and a formidable body of critical writing, Kelley sought to reveal the unexpected connections and contradictions of the American vernacular.
During his adolescence in a working class suburb of Detroit, Kelley engaged with a counterculture that subverted his hometown conventional American lifestyle. In 1976, Kelley left home to pursue his master’s degree at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in Los Angeles and remained in LA until his untimely death in 2012. Alongside his indelible contribution to contemporary art, Kelley frequently collaborated with fellow Angelenos including Paul McCarthy. Furthermore, his rich dialogue with the contemporary art scene in LA produced a series of landmark writings, teachings, and curatorial projects, which became touchstone references for the burgeoning LA art scene. While Kelley investigated subjects as varied as educational politics, sexuality, religion, and post-punk ideology, he dedicated the last years of his life to examining pop psychology and repressed memory through an array of cultural references.
Paul McCarthy Presents Daddies Tomato Ketchup Inflatable (2007) at Frieze Projects
As a part of Frieze Projects curated by Ali Subotnick, within the backlot of Paramount Pictures Studios, Paul McCarthy will present Daddies Tomato Ketchup Inflatable (2007), a 50-foot high inflatable, alongside a continuous loop screening of Bossy Burger (1991). Activating the cinematic setting, Frieze Projects will create a disorienting atmosphere where visitors are in two places at once: an artificial New York City within Los Angeles.
Mark Bradford Debuts Life Size (2019) at Frieze Los Angeles
For the inaugural edition of Frieze Los Angeles, Mark Bradford has created an image of a police body camera isolated on a light-coloured background. Entitled Life Size, this significant work comprises the powerful camera image presented on posters around the city, a large-scale billboard on location at Paramount Pictures Studios, as well as a limited-edition print series of the image, rendered into a 3D sculptural work that is elevated from the print’s surface. ‘I’m always interested in found objects and how context can give meaning,’ said Bradford. ‘The police body camera carries with it such loaded and complex connotations. I also love it as an object—it’s both haunting and resonant.’
At Bradford’s behest, proceeds from sales of his limited-edition print series will go directly to the Art for Justice Fund, to be invested in campaigns to support greater career opportunities for people who are transitioning back home from prison. Life Size is jointly presented by the artist, Frieze Los Angeles, Endeavor and Hauser & Wirth.
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