Mike Kelley

WIELS Contemporary Art Centre

Educational Complex, 1995, marks a breakthrough in Mike Kelley’s career, though not as one might expect. An architectural maquette combining all the schools the artist ever attended, it initiated Kelley’s work on Repressed Memory Syndrome, the pop-psychology notion that critics had grafted onto his earlier exhibitions. But if Educational Complex triggered the body of work presented at Wiels, it also managed to bracket the autobiographical sincerity behind any art-therapeutic revelation. Kelley’s “breakthrough” consisted of rendering his own liberally falsified biography as a foamcore campus, punctuated with the “dark zones” of repressed memories. After the critics mistook Kelley’s formal compositions for psychological afflictions, Kelley willfully misconstrued a psychological syndrome as an aesthetic model, preserving its paradigm while fabricating its traumas. Perhaps that is why, despite

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