In this same room, there are also a collection of textile banners on the walls which explore duality, just as in the Monkey Island symmetry works, but this time with a bitter taste, in messages such as “Fuck you. Now give me a treat”. His work is full of playful, provocative contradictions: the stuffed toys, once loved now dirty, abandoned and worn out; artworks with an aura of the pathetic and grotesque; Memory Ware (2001), a clustered collage of hundreds of pieces of fake jewelry and buttons glued to a wooden canvas. This installation expands into the room with another: Double Contour with Side Bars (2000) created with scraps from his workshop. Surrounding these, one wall holds several black and white photographs Kelly took of the working-class suburbs of Michigan during the mid-90’s.
Mike Kelley, Double Contour with Side Bars (détail), 2000
The last room of the exhibition is dedicated to Day is Done (2006), a 3-hour film of performances, playing on TV right next the same set which you can see in the film, like some sort of meta installation laying halfway between musical theater and Gesamtkunstwerk, ‘total work of art’. The walls of the Pinault Collection are filled with these collages of photographs while the art film plays on loop, an observation about the rituals of high school and university students. Kelley created the “Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstructions” combining fiction with actual yearbooks.
Mike Kelley, Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #27 (Gospel Rocket) (détail), 2004-2005
This major retrospective of Kelley’s is the first opportunity to see many of his artworks exhibited in one place, showcasing his wide variety of multimodal artistic media, which blurs the boundaries between disciplines and resists falling into the traditional categories. But also one can really understand Kelley’s dark sense of humor, his “fuck you” to the establishment, and his commitment to celebrating the counterculture and the rebellion of youth.
Mike Kelley: Ghost and Spirit
Date: October 13th, 2023 – February 19th, 2024
Opening Hours: 11:00 – 19:00 (Closed Tuesdays)
Place: Bourse de Commerce, Pinault Collection
Address: 2 rue de Viarmes, 75001 Paris
Tel: +33 (0)1 5504 6060
Text: Victor Moreno
Photos: Courtesy of Pinault Collection