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Mike Kelley

Mike Kelley is a Los Angeles-based artist, noise musician, and writer. He is a member of the graduate faculty in the M.F.A. program at Art Center College of Design, Pasadena.

Titles by This Author

Statements, Conversations, Proposals

What John C. Welchman calls the "blazing network of focused conflations" from which Mike Kelley's styles are generated is on display in all its diversity in this second volume of the artist's writings. The first volume, Foul Perfection, contained thematic essays and writings about other artists; this collection concentrates on Kelley's own work, ranging from texts in "voices" that grew out of scripts for performance pieces to expository critical and autobiographical writings.

Minor Histories organizes Kelley's writings into five sections. "Statements" consists of twenty pieces produced between 1984 and 2002 (most of which were written to accompany exhibitions), including "Ajax," which draws on Homer, Colgate- Palmolive, and Longinus to present its eponymous hero; "Some Aesthetic High Points," an exercise in autobiography that counters the standard artist bio included in catalogs and press releases; and a sequence of "creative writings" that use mass cultural tropes in concert with high art mannerisms—approximating in prose the visual styles that characterize Kelley's artwork. "Video Statements and Proposals" are introductions to videos made by Kelley and other artists, including Paul McCarthy and Bob Flanagan and Sheree Rose. "Image-Texts" offers writings that accompany or are part of artworks and installations. This section includes "A Stopgap Measure," Kelley's zestful millennial essay in social satire, and "Meet John Doe," a collage of appropriated texts. "Architecture" features an discussion of Kelley's Educational Complex (1995) and an interview in which he reflects on the role of architecture in his work. Finally, "Ufology" considers the aesthetics and sexuality of space as manifested by UFO sightings and abduction scenarios.

Essays and Criticism

The work of artist Mike Kelley (b. 1954) embraces performance, installation, drawing, painting, video, and sculpture. Drawing distinctively on high art and vernacular traditions, including historical research, popular culture, and psychology, Kelley came to prominence in the 1980s with a series of sculptures composed of craft materials. His recent work offers dialogues with architecture and with repressed memory syndrome, and a sustained inquiry into his own aesthetic and social history. The subjects on which Kelley has written are as varied as his artistic media. They include the work of fellow artists, sound, caricature, the uncanny, UFOlogy, and gender-bending.

This book offers a diverse collection of Kelley's writings from the last twenty-five years. It contains major critical texts on art, film, and the wider culture, including his piece on the aesthetic he calls "urban Gothic." It also contains essays, mostly commissioned for exhibition catalogs and journals, on the artists and groups David Askevold, Öyvind Fahlström, Douglas Huebler, John Miller, Survival Research Laboratories, and Paul Thek, among others. Kelley's voices are passionate, analytic, and ironic, and his critical intelligence is leavened with touches of whimsy.