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Sandrine Colard on the 6th Lubumbashi Biennale Ocula Conversation Sandrine Colard on the 6th Lubumbashi Biennale

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the largest Francophone nation in Africa with vast resources and nearly 80 million inhabitants, is a place where commodities play a vital role in the national economy and the country's significance on the world stage. This is the context from which the 6th Lubumbashi Biennale (24 October–24 November...

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52 ARTISTS 52 ACTIONS Symposium Brings Ideas Offline Ocula Report
In collaboration with Artspace Sydney
52 ARTISTS 52 ACTIONS Symposium Brings Ideas Offline 13 Dec 2019 : Elyse Goldfinch for Ocula

From 20 to 21 July 2019, Artspace Sydney held a two-day symposium that brought artists in conversation with leading curators, writers, activists, academics, diplomats, and journalists from across Asia. The symposium was the final chapter of the 52 ARTISTS 52 ACTIONS exhibition, publication, website, and Instagram project. Instigated and...

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We Are Our Infrastructure, Argues Newly Announced Shanghai Biennale Chief Curator Ocula News We Are Our Infrastructure, Argues Newly Announced Shanghai Biennale Chief Curator 13 December 2019

The Power Station of Art will make a fitting location for Andrés Jaque, whose past projects expose the politics concealed by buried pipes and managed cables. Spanish architect, writer, and curator Andrés Jaque has been named the chief curator of the 13th Shanghai Biennale, which will take place at the Power Station of Art (PSA) from 13 November...

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Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough Ocula Insight
Sponsored Content | Mazzoleni Gallery
Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough 15 October 2019

Hans Hartung and Art Informel at Mazzoleni London (1 October 2019-18 January 2020) presents key works by the French-German painter while highlighting his connection with artists active in Paris during the 50s and 60s. In this video, writer and historian Alan Montgomery discusses Hartung's practice and its legacy. Born in Leipzig in 1904, Hans...

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HomePage Artists

(1954 - 2012), USA

Mike Kelley Biography

One of the most prominent artists of his generation, Mike Kelley produced a vast range of works in drawing, sculpture, performance, music, video, photography and painting, as well as critical texts and collaborative works. He completed his studies at the University of Michigan and the California Institute of the Arts in 1976 and 1978 respectively. Kelley moved to the West Coast in the mid-1970s, and lived and worked in Los Angeles until his death in 2012.

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Kelley gained recognition in the 1980s for his work with children's soft toys and other found materials. With these materials, he examined popular culture, memories and fragmented narratives. In Eviscerated Corpse (1989), he sewed together rag dolls and stuffed animals that he had salvaged from thrift shops to make a cross between a human and a centipede. The installation was part of the larger series 'Half A Man' (1987–93) and critiqued the association of innocence with childhood and the idea of family. More Love Hours Than Can Ever Be Repaid and The Wages of Sin (1987)—an earlier creation from the same series—similarly incorporated soft toys and second-hand blankets. Kelley's conspicuous use of sewing and craft—skills traditionally regarded as 'feminine'—questioned the definitions of normalcy and gender.

Children's toys also function in Kelley's work as a satirical metaphor. Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites (1991–99) consists of suspended balls created from discarded, brightly coloured toys. By transforming children's toys into serious sculpture, Kelley visualised a darker side to the American dream's endorsement of excessive consumption and reckless luxury collecting, and intermingled the 'low' and the 'high' of American culture. He also deodorised his suspended sculptures, mocking America's selective amnesia of unpleasant realities.

The idea of memory was one of Kelley's longstanding interests. In 1983, he filmed a 28-minute video about The Banana Man—a character from the children's television show Captain Kangaroo. Since Kelley had not seen The Banana Man himself growing up, he asked his friends to share their memories for the reconstruction. In its incomplete study, far removed from the real character, The Banana Man offers an investigation into the fragility of human memory. In Educational Complex (1995), Kelley similarly reproduced the structures of every school he had attended, alongside his childhood home, as small architectural models. Blank spaces represented parts of buildings he could not remember. Kelley was intrigued by the increasing popularity of Repressed Memory Syndrome, which proposed that the human brain repressed traumatic memories and that therapy could recover them. The public grew interested in traumatic memories and child abuse, a phenomenon Kelley called an infatuation.

In 2010, Kelley collaborated with the London-based organisation Artangel to launch Mobile Homestead: a to-scale replica of his childhood home. Designed as a 'mobile home', the replica is constructed from lightweight white cardboard and has a removable clapboard façade. Kelley conceived of the project as a community gallery that would be driven around the streets of Detroit, serving the public with 'haircuts, social services, meeting space, and a place to hold barbecues and perhaps for the homeless to pick up mail', according to Randy Kennedy for The New York Times. Upon its completion, he recorded the house's launch in three videos that screened at the 2012 Whitney Biennial. Since Kelley's death, Mobile Homestead has stayed with the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) and remains available for the community.

Outside his endeavours in visual media, Kelley also wrote and collaborated extensively. He has been published in journals including Artforum (2011, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2003, 1989), Journal of Contemporary Art (1994) and Art Issues (1990). He was an original member of Destroy All Monsters (1973–85), an experimental noise group founded with his friends Jim Shaw, Cary Loren and Niagara (Lynn Rovner). Kelley also collaborated with the band Sonic Youth in his performance Plato's Cave, Rothko's Chapel, Lincoln's Profile (1986) and with Paul McCarthy to produce Heidi (1992).

Kelley's work was and continues to be exhibited widely. Selected solo exhibition venues have included Gagosian Gallery, London (2011, 2007); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2013); MOCAD, Detroit (2013); and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1993). He also participated in multiple biennials, most notably the Whitney Biennial (2012, 2002, 1995, 1993, 1991, 1989, 1987, 1985), the Gwangju Biennale (2010), the Shanghai Biennale (2008), La Biennale de Lyon (2003, 2001), the 43rd Venice Biennale (1988) and the Sydney Biennale (1984).

After his death, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam opened a major retrospective of his works, titled MIKE KELLEY: Themes and Variations from 35 Years (2012–13). Other posthumous exhibitions include Mike Kelley at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2014) and An Homage to Mike Kelley at MoMA PS1, New York (2012–13).

Kelley's works are in the collections of Art Institute of Chicago; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Detroit Institute of Arts; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York among others. Kelley was a Guggenheim Fellow in 2003 and in 1997 he won the Skowhegan Medal for Mixed Media.

Biography by Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2017

Current Exhibition
13 November–21 December 2019

Since Last We Met

Exhibition view: Group Exhibition, Since Last We Met, Simon Lee Gallery, New York (13 November–21 December 2019). Courtesy Simon Lee Gallery. Photo: Jeffrey Sturges.

Mike Kelley Featured Artworks

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Carpet #2 by Mike Kelley contemporary artwork
Mike KelleyCarpet #2, 2003 Acrylic on carpet, mounted on wood panel
101.9 x 124.5 x 10.2 cm
Hauser & Wirth Enquire about this work
Wood Grain #5 by Mike Kelley contemporary artwork
Mike KelleyWood Grain #5, 2003 Acrylic on wood panel
106.7 x 152.4 cm
Hauser & Wirth Enquire about this work
Black Velvet Study #3 by Mike Kelley contemporary artwork
Mike KelleyBlack Velvet Study #3, 2002 Acrylic on black velvet mounted on wood panel
66.7 x 139.7 cm
Hauser & Wirth Enquire about this work
Lobed by Mike Kelley contemporary artwork
Mike KelleyLobed Acrylic on canvas with custom frames
Hauser & Wirth Enquire about this work
Untitled 2 by Mike Kelley contemporary artwork
Mike KelleyUntitled 2, 2008–2009 Acrylic on wood panels
243.8 x 633.7 x 12.7 cm
Hauser & Wirth Enquire about this work
Yummy Puffy Mommy Yoni by Mike Kelley contemporary artwork
Mike KelleyYummy Puffy Mommy Yoni, 2008 Acrylic on canvas with custom frame
76.2 x 106.7 x 5.7 cm
Hauser & Wirth Enquire about this work
Dialogue 6 (an example of reflection or absorption) by Mike Kelley contemporary artwork
Mike KelleyDialogue 6 (an example of reflection or absorption), 1991 Blanket, ball, cushion, tape recorder, tape with text spoken and written by the artist
177 x 90 cm
Simon Lee Gallery Enquire about this work
Memory Ware #41 by Mike Kelley contemporary artwork
Mike KelleyMemory Ware #41, 2003 Mixed media on wood panel
192.4 x 131.4 x 10.2 cm
Metro Pictures Enquire about this work

Mike Kelley Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Since Last We Met at Simon Lee Gallery, New York
Open Now
13 November–21 December 2019 Group Exhibition Since Last We Met Simon Lee Gallery, New York
Contemporary art exhibition, Mike Kelley, Timeless Painting at Hauser & Wirth, New York
Open Now
12 November 2019–25 January 2020 Mike Kelley Timeless Painting Hauser & Wirth, 22nd Street, New York
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, My Head is a Haunted House at Sadie Coles HQ, London
Closed
5 June–31 August 2019 Group Exhibition My Head is a Haunted House Sadie Coles HQ, Kingly Street

Mike Kelley Represented By

Mike Kelley In Related Press

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On Monstering: 'My Head Is a Haunted House' at Sadie Coles HQ and 'Dracula’s Wedding' at Rodeo, London—Curated by Charlie Fox Related Press On Monstering: 'My Head Is a Haunted House' at Sadie Coles HQ and 'Dracula’s Wedding' at Rodeo, London—Curated by Charlie Fox Mousse Magazine : 1 July 2019

Disorientingly familiar, the entrance of My Head Is a Haunted House is covered with a Twin Peaks –esque Red Room floor vinyl that grounds whatever happens there in another dimension. But in contrast to David Lynch’s tricks, there are no velvet curtains bordering an outside;1 there is no alternative to rambling through the rooms suffused in...

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Charlie Fox haunts London Related Press Charlie Fox haunts London TANK Magazine : 1 July 2019

Charlie Fox invites you on a tour of the inner workings of his mind with Dracula’s Wedding and My Head is a Haunted House –two simultaneous exhibitions on this summer at Rodeo and Sadie Coles HQ respectively. Though working in different colour schemes, both shows are a compilation of Fox’s favourite artists and their spookiest works, in all...

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Monster Mash-Up: The Art Gallery As Haunted House Related Press Monster Mash-Up: The Art Gallery As Haunted House The Quietus : 29 June 2019

I didn’t get a chance to see My Head Is A Haunted House until about a week and a half after it opened. In this time (and before the opening), I’ve felt like it was omnipresent online. Constant photos of people posing with giant humping soft sculptures, the cover for the accompanying book endlessly whipping through my feed–It’s had a palpable...

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The ones to watch at the first ever Frieze Los Angeles Related Press The ones to watch at the first ever Frieze Los Angeles Tatler : 13 February 2019

February in LA has long been a permanent fixture in the calendars of the world's elite, who use awards season as a welcome excuse to escape the dreary drizzle in Europe and the biting cold on the East Coast. But now there's a new reason to be in Tinseltown this month: the launch of the first ever Frieze Los Angeles.

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Mike Kelley In Video & Audio

Mike Kelley: Kandors 1999 – 2011, Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles Related Video & Audio Mike Kelley: Kandors 1999 – 2011, Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles Hauser & Wirth : 22 December 2017

Mary Clare Stevens, Executive Director, Mike Kelley Foundation of the Arts, talks about the exhibition ' Mike Kelley: Kandors 1999 – 2011 at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles, 21 October 2017–21 January 2018

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