Saturday, May 26, 2012

Mike Kelley

January 31st of 2012 heralded in the end of Summer in the my city, the beginning of Spring in the Americas and Europe and sadly the loss of creative mind Mike Kelley. I was never readily involved with the visual arts as a student throughout high school and wasn't readily affected by the news of his death, but after having a vague exploration of his works I wish I were able to see them with my own eyes. The installations are vividly textured and involve seemingly innocent stuffed animals; a motif also held on the discography of the Sonic Youth album, 'Dirty'. The assemblages of found objects has an angelic appeal- I certainly wouldn't expect the works to come from a middle-aged man living in New York but more like my own sugar-seeped dreams from childhood of what would make a good interactive toy store. Whatever Kelley's motivations for his work, it is assured he will be missed and remembered for his contributions towards popular culture as well as his commentary on youth rebellion and class status in America.

While I busily toil away over a hot textbook, learning various equations all I could think how different life would be if I instead produced sculptures- especially those made of soft, fluffy collectibles. It would take a while to master combining all the different materials together and banding them with whatever cords and threads I can find, but maybe it would have been a more enjoyable Senior year if I had chosen Studio Arts and to work busily on a portfolio. Without any original ideas though, I am nothing more than a cheap copy cat and until I create my own images and produce more outfit posts as well I will be nothing more than a mediocre blogger sitting behind a computer screen- failing to reach my potential and audiences.

While some young women are content to decorate in the style of bohemians and gypsies, I think I would prefer to remove the flags and posters above my bedroom wall and instead create a banner made of knitted toys and other abandoned nonsense from junk shops. While the idea seems radical, I can't help but wonder if some loony grandmother has also had the same idea to combine loved teddy bears and knitted jargon together into a feature rug or very lumpy shag carpet. What's really appealing about the presentation of this studio space is the open, simple white walls that remind me of my own bland home. I don't think there is any sewing machine with any girth and strength to assemble whole stuffed toys together; but one can dream. If I were to ever tackle the idea myself I'd like to try a small scale model at first- but teddy bears the size of thimbles aren't in popular demand I'm afraid. In New York, only the strong survive and to be heard you have to go hard or simply go home.

Perhaps Kelley just had a natural knack for finding unsettling toys with a more sinister nature then they really should; or they just don't make them like they used to. In the case of my native Australia I don't see too many loved teddy bears with squished faces, missing eyes or kissey faces but maybe a whole room full of them wouldn't have been for the best. If that were dedicated to my work and techniques for creating installations and sculptures and meant travelling around the world for art exhibitions and rubbing elbows with other creative minds; well, that would be a different story. There's more than meets to eye to such simple set-ups and even from high school subjects, students are instructed to construct stories and meaning behind their works. A friend of mine has churned out a sculpture a week for the past ten weeks or so; they must be a mastermind bullshit artist by now.
And finally, to present a little of the Sonic Youth discography and what first attracted my attention to Kelley as well as Claire Inc featuring the news of his death on their blog. Artists and musicians seems like natural compatriots as they are both trying to express their feelings as well as create and give something new to society. A lot of people don't make it and that's what always scared me and held me back from trying in either field. Kudos to Mike Kelley; his work and all his criticism of the youth rebellion and popular culture. It is from our elders that we form out first free-thinking ideas and seek to either gain their approval or simply act as radicals to shock them. I hope others took more away from his legacy than I did, and that those close to him find solace in the end that they were intimate with such a creative mind.

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