On the influence of Mike Kelley’s work, art historian and critic John Welchman writes “much contemporary art that trades in abjection and the pathetic, scatter art, neo-junk, bad-girl provocations, a thousand reformulations of ‘the body’, have all passed, here and there, through the viscerally abstruse filtration system of Kelley’s imagination.” For this conversation, the two discuss Kelley’s remarkable career, focusing on his large-scale video work the Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction series, started in 2000. An ambitious project, the series is a group of 365 videotapes and video installations related to his 1995 sculptural work, Educational Complex. Through restaged photographs of activities found in high school yearbooks and newspapers, the videos address issues of repressed memory, abuse, and the culture of victimization.
Kelley’s work encompasses sculpture, performance, video, and installation. His piece Four Part Butter-Scene N’Ganga (1997) is on view in the exhibition Urban Cocktail in the Medtronic Gallery. Welchman is a professor of modern and contemporary art history at the University of California, San Diego.