Friday, October 18, 2013

Mike Kelley PS1

There is no denying the strong impact that this sprawling retrospective has. It takes up the entire museum and features over 250 works by this respected “bad boy” of the international art world who took his own life last year. I wish I liked his work and the show more than I did, but I have to say that I felt assaulted and overwhelmed by it all. I suppose some would consider this a good thing. The New York Times critic wrote that it “Knocks everything else in New York this fall right of the ring.” Is this now the sorry state of contemporary art, a prizefight where artists knock each other out and only big and wow commands our attention. I hope not. I certainly liked some of the work, my favorites probably being his John Glenn Memorial Detroit River Reclamation Project which consists of a large statue of Glenn that is covered with shards of crockery and glassware and stands on a large platform also covered in shards of the same material and the hanging bunched up stuffed animals and dolls that also fill an entire gallery. My least favorite (and there were many for me to pick from) is his “Day Is Done” which is a loud fun house of an installation memory piece with particular animosity for his high school years. It fills an entire dark large gallery on the 2nd floor and is packed with many films, videos, large objects and lots of intense loud sounds all fighting for your attention. I almost expected a hellish clown with a chainsaw to jump out at me. There are other video and film installations in small dark rooms scattered about the place, which I avoided like the plaque, as I’ve said before I don’t go into small dark rooms any longer. There are also paintings (his room of vulgar badly painted pornographic like portraits mixed with cute frog paintings are terrible) and drawings that are generally pleasing but look like much of the stuff that fills the galleries of Chelsea, smart ass grad school dreck of which he is no doubt a favorite role model for these marauding masses. I tried to find an in, a doorway, a window, a rabbit hole into his autobiographical psyche, after all this is an artist who was at the top of his game when he took his own life but I really couldn’t find any. The entire show of  “expensive items”, that’s what one of the guards intuitively and smartly called them when she thought I was getting to close to one of his works, are spiffy, and clean. They have no touch to them because most (even his drawings) have the look of being fabricated. They look manufactured ready for the next big art fair or the Gagosian Gallery where collectors who are hungry for the next hot thing can plop down lots of moola for these conversation pieces, these “expensive items.”  This hippodrome, this extravaganza is on until Feb 2 and will no doubt pack them in.


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