chicago

Mike Kelley

The Renaissance Society

Mike Kelley shares with Georges Bataille the position of “excremental philosopher,” exploring the underbelly of patriarchal culture, and focusing on what is degraded, refused, denied, repressed, and embarrassing. With deft inflections, he turns the stereotypically “good” into the ugly, and infuses the stupidly familiar with just enough horror to turn its blandness inside out, replacing the smile with what it tries to cover up.

Most of the work on exhibit here was grouped under the heading “Half a Man” and resembled what is typically defined as “women’s work.” The wall-hanging More Love Hours Than Can Ever Be Repaid, 1987, is made from handknitted, tatted, and crocheted effluvia (which resale shops have a constantly rotting supply of) in burnt oranges, limey yellows, and sour purples; it is accompanied by a pyramid of shaped and colored candles, melted into one obnoxious, perfumed mass.

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