Program 11: Mike Kelley

Although illustrating versatility in both technique and content, I found Kelley’s films particularly repellant. The first is Out O’ Actions, a split-screen installation commissioned as a Visitor’s Gallery installation for the inaugural exhibition of Out of Actions: Between Performance and the Object 1949-1979). The short film is presented in delirious, rapid fire fast-forward playback of Kelley’s preparatory discussions with the museum’s organizers (usually office meetings and model scale studies). The second short film is Bridge Visitor (Legend-Trip), Kelley’s entry for an exhibition entitled 100 Artists See Satan. In this crude humor piece, Kelley uses a household toilet, simulated (or perhaps real) acts of urination, and what appears to be a borescope to trace fluid flow into the unseen, hidden recesses of the “lair of the devil”. The third short film is a tediously overlong entry entitled Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #1 (A Domestic Scene), a hammy, overwrought piece intended to resemble a live television program that is played with embarrassing, caricatured theatricality. The videotape will serve as part of a larger, envisioned installation of 365 tapes – each encompassing a day in a year – that will accompany the artist’s sculpture, Educational Complex. The final film is Sod and Sodie Sock (Vienna Cut), a film accompaniment to the installation, Sod and Sodie Sock Camp O.S.O. at the Secession in Vienna, Austria: a military encampment of barracks, tunnels, tents, and shower rooms. Kelley’s bizarre, exceedingly lowbrow, and reprehensibly gratuitous film includes inexplicable scenes of an overweight man – naked from the waist down – crawling backwards through a narrow tunnel, a group of transsexuals being peeped on as they shower, and an assembly of soldiers watching instructional demonstrations of erotic paraphernalia and anatomically correct mannequins.

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