Saturday, February 4, 2012

Mike Kelley: Fine Artist never Art Fashionista

This past week fine artist, Mike Kelley died. There is still speculation of how and why this happened, but suicide is evident. The reasons for this action are still speculative. It may not be apparent, but his work was very influential on my own practice, work, and writing. I am making a bit of a strange departure from my usual posts and posting style because of this.

Mike Kelly always seemed to be upset with the art world. I remember an interview in Artforum around the time (1999/2000) when he first unveiled his colossal Extracurricular Activity project, where he discussed how the contemporary art world became this ugly/dumb mix of Pop and Minimalism, how he felt that his work was a mix of these, but compared to current artists' works, his work in comparison was arcane/abject/alien. Did the great culture appropriator finally consume himself? While I feel he tried to play up (and down) certain tropes, and he also switched galleries from Metro Pictures to Gagosian to further state this position. He even “toyed” with creating advanced capitalist products. Most of these actions lost me, and he may have lost himself by associating with this merchant.

However, last year I discovered and became very interested in his Kandors series. When reading the book on the subject I became even more fascinated by his writing about the series in its very straight forward, non-academic style. The scope was clear, and very large. To me it is his greatest series of work, and most culturally significant, especially from an Artefact (ala John Miller) point of view. A miniature vitrine/contained city for super beings; collected, maintained, and housed by a super being; in other words: the ultimate cultural object or the full attainment of Objet petit a.

I will miss the next step, the extension of this work I will miss the Fine Artist who knew the difference between great Fine Art and Art fashion. I will miss the Fine Artist negating brand/style and all its trappings. I will miss the singular voice of a human without compromise.