The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Visual Arts at Princeton University is collaborating with MoMA PS1 to present “Mike Kelley Looking Forward: An afternoon of lectures and a panel discussion,” highlighting one of the most influential artists of the past 40 years. The event, held in conjunction with a major retrospective of Kelley’s work, will take place on Sunday, December 15 from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. in the VW Dome located in the entrance courtyard of the art center in Long Island City, New York.
This exhibition is the largest of the artist’s work to date and MoMA PS1’s most expansive exhibition to date, occupying space from the boiler room to the attic in the cavernous, sprawling, former public school.
“Mike Kelley produced a body of deeply innovative work, mining American popular culture and both mainstream and underground traditions,” notes Joe Scanlan, Director of the Princeton’s Program in Visual Arts and an organizer of the event, along with Jenny Schlenzka, Associate Curator of Live Programming at MoMA PS1. “Rather than looking at Kelley’s art retrospectively, this one-day conference will present new ideas about the influence of his work going forward.”
The event is part of MoMA PS1’s Sunday Sessions series organized by Schlenzka with Mike Skinner, Producer, and Alex Sloane, Live Programs Coordinator, at MoMA PS1. It is the last event in relation to “HUM 598: Contemporary Art and the Amateur,” a Princeton graduate seminar taught by Professor Scanlan. Previous events held at Princeton were the exhibition, “Myself, I think We Should Keep Collecting Titles” by David Dobkin and “This situation” by Tino Sehgal. All have been made possible with support from the Lewis Center for the Arts and The David A. Gardner '69 Project Fund at Princeton University. The Sunday Sessions series and the VW Dome at MoMA PS1 are made possible by a partnership with Volkswagen of America.
"Taking Up Time Making" (1978), ink on paper by Mike Kelley. Photo courtesy of the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts.
At 1:00 p.m. lectures will be presented by Elisabeth Sussman, Curator and Sondra Gilman Curator of Photography at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Stacy Wolf, Professor of Theater in the Lewis Center for the Arts and Director of the Princeton Atelier (2:00 p.m.); and John C. Welchman, Professor in the Visual Arts Department at the University of California, San Diego and Chair of the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, Los Angeles (5:00 p.m.).
Artists Rachel Harrison, William Pope. L, and Joe Scanlan will comprise a panel discussion moderated by Schlenzka at 4:00 p.m.
Born in Detroit in 1954, Kelley lived and worked in Los Angeles from the mid-1970s until his untimely death in 2012 at the age of 57. Over his 35-year career, he worked in numerous media—drawings, sculpture, performance, music, video, photography, and painting. Speaking of his early work and artistic concerns at large, Kelley said, “My entrance into the art world was through the counter-culture, where it was common practice to lift material from mass culture and ‘pervert’ it to reverse or alter its meaning…Mass culture is scrutinized to discover what is hidden, repressed, within it.” Through his art, Kelley explored themes as diverse as American class relations, sexuality, repressed memory, systems of religion and transcendence, and post-punk politics. He brought to these subjects both incisive critique, a fecund aesthetic, and an abundant, self-deprecating humor.
Tickets for the lecture and panel discussion are free for anyone holding a valid Princeton University ID. Otherwise tickets are $10 in advance through www.momaps1.org and $12 at MoMA PS1 the day of the event starting at noon. Admission to the Mike Kelley retrospective is inclusive in the ticket price.