Minor Histories: Statements, Conversations, Proposals

Mike Kelley, Author, John C. Welchman, Editor
Mike Kelley, Author, John C. Welchman, Editor MIT Press (MA) $30 (457p) ISBN 978-0-262-61198-5
Reviewed on: 03/01/2004
Release date: 02/01/2004
Hardcover - 459 pages - 978-0-262-27693-1
Hardcover - 457 pages - 978-0-262-11277-2
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This collection of essays and illustrations documents the work of Kelley, the Los Angeles-based artist who once drew a swastika on Abe Lincoln's forehead and called the resulting image With Malice toward None: With Charity for All; who founded the ironic noise band Destroy All Monsters before punk broke; and who posited, in Fresh Acconci (1996),""a specialized subcultural erotica for the artworld despite what could be construed as its deconstructive pretensions""--among many other actions and reactions. For this volume, UCSD art historian Welchman divides Kelley's texts into five categories. The first 20 brief""Statements"" provide Kelley's frank commentary on a particular piece's intentions or backstory. The much longer essay""The Meaning is Confused, Spatiality, Framed"" concerns multiple pieces, and includes a discussion of Harry Harlow's experiments with primates and emotion, while the last piece of the section comprises a set of answers to questions posed by the curators of Eye Infection, a 2001 group show at Holland's Stedelijk Museum. Three other sections,""Image-Texts,""""Architecture"" and""Ufology"" concern Kelley's work with text panels, proposed textual interventions and UFO imagery. Many of these pieces have been published before in art magazines, but anyone who cares about post-1960s performance and video art will be very glad to have them in one place. Newcomers to the artist's work may prefer to start with Foul Perfection, Kelley's set of essays and commentaries on other artists, since writing about the work of others affords Kelley more opportunity for stretching out and unpacking the sort of startling historical cross-connections and commentaries that make his own work so compelling. But whether writing about his work or that of others, Kelley remains one of the most incisive artists around. 62 illustrations.
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