SchoolArts Magazine

MAY-JUN 2007

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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A rt :21 Ar tist s sp ea k Mike Kelley Born 1954, Detroit, MI Education BFA, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI MFA, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA LivesandWorks Los Angeles, CA Media&Materials video, painting, performance, sculpture, found objects Biography Mike Kelley's work ranges from highly symbolic and ritualistic performance pieces, to arrangements of stuffed-animal sculptures, to multi-room installations that restage institutional environments (schools, offices, zoos). A critic and curator, Kelley has organized numerous exhibitions incorporating his own work, work by fellow artists, and non-art objects that exemplify aspects of nostalgia, the grotesque, and the uncanny. His work questions the legitimacy of "normative" values and systems of authority, and attacks the sanctity of cultural attitudes toward family, religion, sexuality, art history, and education. Kelley's ongoing pseudo-autobiographical project, Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction, is a planned compendium of 365 sculpture and video works, inspired by mundane yearbook photos. 16 SchoolArts May/June2007 BalancedByMassandWorth,2001. Foam, papier-mâché, wood, brass, paper pulp, tile grout, acrylic, miscellaneous beads, buttons, jewelry, two parts, 27 x 134 x 15" (69 x 340 x 38 cm) each. Photo by Nic Tenwiggenhorn. Courtesy Jablonka Galerie, Cologne. "IknewbythetimeIwasateenagerthatIwasgoingtobeanartist,there's nodoubtaboutthat.Therewasnothingelseformetobe.Ididn'tevenwant tobetheotherthingsthatatthetimewereoutsidegeneralculture...andI thinkthereasonIchoseitwasthatatthattimeitwasthemostdespicable thingyoucouldbeinAmericanculture.Tobeanartistatthattimehad absolutelynosocialvalue.Itwaslikeplannedfailure.Youcouldneverbe asuccess.AndthefactthatI'mnowaprofessionalartist?Atthattimeit seemedlikeacontradictionofterms.Icamefromamilieuinwhichartists weredespised,whereasrockmusiciansanddrugdealerswere—youknow— hipstercultureheroes. "I'mmoreofaMarxistthanasymbolist.Always,myinterestinpopular formswasnottoglorifythem—becauseIreallydislikepopularculturein mostcases.Ithinkit'sgarbage,butthat'sthecultureIliveinandthat'sthe culturepeoplespeak.I'manavant-gardist.We'relivinginthepost-modern age,thedeathoftheavant-garde.SoallIcanreallydonowisworkwith thisdominantcultureandflayit,ripitapart,reconfigureit,exposeit. Becausepopularcultureisreallyinvisible.Peoplearereallyvisuallyilliterate.Theylearntoreadinschool,buttheydon'tlearntodecodeimages. They'renottaughttolookatfilmsandrecognizethemasthingsthatare puttogether.Theyseefilmasakindofnature,liketrees.Theydon'tsay, 'Ohyeah,somebodymadethat,somebodycutthat.'Theydon'tthinkabout visualthingsthatway.Sovisualculturejustsurroundsthem,butpeopleare oblivioustoit.

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